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Conduct Business Research: Part 3
Marina Hlavaty-Laposa, Brittany Mooney, Bradly Rogers, Kristen Keck, Terrell Lampkin RES/351
March 10, 2013
Jo Martinez

Conduct Business Research: Part 3
Wal-Mart, like many companies in this economy, and are facing the management dilemma of declining sales. According to Irwin (2012), in a recent e-mail obtained by Bloomberg News, a Wal-Mart senior vice president asked, “Where are all the customers? And where’s their money?” (para.1). Irwin came up with the four major possibilities for the weakened spending. The possibilities identified were delayed tax refunds, higher payroll tax that reduced take-home pay, higher gas prices, or some unidentified cause for reduced spending. The purpose of this analysis is to determine possible reasons for Wal-Mart’s poor fourth quarter performance. The potential problems may include but are not limited to: inaccurate questionnaire (survey) which may yield to bias or incorrect results, making the research wasteful. To determine the decline in sales, one must perform the most appropriate research design methods, collecting data by using appropriate instruments, and finally analyzing the results. We must be able to answer the question: What can be done to increase sales and regain a strong financial position?” Research Question

The management question is what can be done to increase sales and regain financial position? There are many research questions to be reviewed to determine a solution for this problem. The research questions are should prices be lowered to allow more people to make purchases? Should Wal-Mart allow layaway for purchases because of the delay in tax refunds? Should Wal-Mart change advertising areas to attract new customers who may not be as affected by higher payroll taxes? Because the tax codes were being modified, consumers did not receive tax refunds as early as they had in previous years. Consumer spending was reduced, if not delayed, until tax refund checks were received. Additional variables are the state of the economy, consumers responding to increased gas prices, modified family budgets due to loss of income from unemployment impacts, consumer response to payroll tax increases and less income, including other various economic influences. Hypotheses & Variables

Wal-Mart's fourth quarter sales are lower than originally predicted. Wal-Mart's last quarter sales, seen a loss of 1.7 billion dollars. Wal-Mart vice president Jerry Murray, “called the sales figures a "total disaster" and said they were the worst he'd seen to start a month in about seven years."(www.dailyfinance.com). Wal-Mart blames its poor performance on the delay of tax refunds. As a corporation, Wal-Mart must take a few ethical aspects into account moving forward. In the past, Wal-Mart has been in the center of controversy regarding its wages. It would be unethical for Wal-Mart to lower their employees’ wages due to poor quarter performance. Wal-Mart has a responsibility to disclose their performance numbers through annual report. Wrongful report can have a damaging effect on other parties such as lenders and investors. Several factors can be possible solutions in this research. Hypothesis A: Poor economy has led to lower consumer spending. Hypothesis B: Tax refund checks are to blame for declining sales. Known and unknown variables may lead to a possible solution. Wal-Mart’s poor fourth quarter performance may be a reflection of the company’s business and structure and practices. All avenues should be analyzed to insure the research provides an accurate solution. Should other determining variable be discovered, appropriate research must be conducted based on those variables.

Ethical Considerations
Wal-Mart made zero attempts to disclose their less than perfect performance which may send the wrong impression about the corporation. Wal-Mart predicts that its sales should go up now that consumers are getting their tax refunds and have extra money...
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