Walmart Stores Failed Miserably In One Country, Here’s Why

Not everyone appreciates a deal, Walmart had to leave Germany because it was too, well, American.

By Trista Sobeck | Updated

Walmart is the world’s largest private employer and the biggest retailer by revenue alone (not to mention its cheap groceries). Despite humble beginnings in Arkansas, the giant got a little too big for its britches and had to pull back in some places in Europe like Germany. Here stateside, Walmart is starting to rebrand itself in order to survive. 

Walmart is known for its rollback of prices, the wacky way people dress when they are there (thanks internet), and its headstrong nature to cater to its base. In fact, Walmart is staunchly sticking with its own Walmart pay and stating it will never use Apple pay or any other payment app. 

Love it, hate it, and it sure is polarizing, but when you have small children and not a ton of income, Walmart is gold. Where else can you grab some lingerie, rotisserie chicken, and a 6 pack of beer for under $30?

So, Walmart made some mistakes in the past? Don’t we all? According to Daily Meal, when Walmart tried to sweep Germany off her hardworking feet, she didn’t react too well. In the 1990s Walmart was pushed out of the country and it came back to the US with its tail between its legs. 

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The failure reportedly cost the retail giant $1B in losses. But why? Who doesn’t like inexpensive brands? Who doesn’t like to shop in their pajamas? Europeans, that’s who. When brands enter other countries that are different from their native beginnings, they must research, not just things like market share and capital, but cultural norms. Apparently, Walmart missed that step.

Known as “American style” in Europe, many folks just aren’t on board. Americans are hyper-friendly, get in your personal space, and are just too much for some people across the pond. Whereas the US cultural norm is sometimes loud, a bit obnoxious, and in Walmart’s case, too cheap, the European cultural norm is a bit more refined. (Please excuse all the generalizations, but you get where we are going with this.)

Good ol’ Walmart was accused of trying to take too many customers from the local German stores as they just could not compete with Walmart’s basement prices. Hey, we get it. Americans feel the same in some places!

Plus, it turns out that Germany has its own brand of supercenter shops that feel a bit more European and familiar. Walmart’s European competitor is known as METRO AG, with yellow and blue branding colors. Sound familiar? It’s just Walmart’s long-lost twin who lives in a fancy house. (Parent Trap anyone?)

The point is Walmart is doing just fine now and is currently seeing an uptick in a wealthier customer base. In fact, the giant is starting to rebrand its sleepwear apparel line with a brand called Joyspun. Think hot stuff, less Ram Tough. We wish them luck. We just hope they cease their practice of throwing out perfectly good food and products when they’re damaged. But, sometimes, that’s the American way. And more than likely another reason why Germany said, Auf Wiedersehen!