Wal-Mart Hikes Toy Prices Just as Congress Gives the Waltons Huge Tax Breaks

If there was ever any illusion that the super-rich would start acting nicer after Congress gave them both income and estate tax breaks, I present Wal-Mart’s thanks for Congress’ willingness to make the Walton family even richer: (h/t Consumerist)

Wal-Mart managers in the U.S. received instructions to mark up an average of 1,800 types of toys per store, according to a company e-mail dated Nov. 30 obtained by Bloomberg News. The e- mail didn’t disclose specific increases.


“In previous years Wal-Mart has come out and hammered everyone with unbelievably low toy prices,” said Eric Johnson, director of the Center for Digital Strategies at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire. “They stepped away from that this year, and after Thanksgiving their prices have crept back up.”

In a year when kids keep begging Santa for bare necessities for Christmas, the Walton family has been made even richer by Obama and Congress. And the thanks Congress and the American people get is higher prices for toys.

71 replies
  1. SusanD says:

    There are no boundaries to greed, it is limitless.

    “‘Need’ can be satisfied. ‘Want’ expands to fill the Universe.”

  2. hackworth1 says:

    Walmart hikes toy prices at Christmas, even as Obama asks them to be nice after he had already agreed to continue Dubya’s Tax Arrangement in exchange for nothing.

    Just as Herbert Hoover did, Obama convened a group of savvy business leaders – asking them to help spur the economy by retaining their employees – in exchange for nothing. Obama pretends to believe – with Hoover’s failed model as a glaring example – that if he asks them nicely -savvy business leaders – sitting on billions in profits – will do right by the people.

    Obama is not a fool. He pretends to be a fool because he doesn’t want to get a horse’s head in his bed.

    That does not do the citizens any good. Obama must be impeached.

  3. OldFatGuy says:


    Of course the REAL conspiracy here is that the same email likely circulated Target, K-Mart, Costco, etc. etc. etc. etc

    Oh, and fuck the Waltons.

    ‘night John Boy.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      Gee, one of my best leftie relatives will spend $3+/gallon & drive out of her way to get bargains at Costco. She is completely unaware of the influence of her own actions on the general situation, including her weird personal budget decisions.

      • OldFatGuy says:

        I gotta admit that one completely over my head. If I said something wrong, sorry.

        As an aside though about driving out of one’s way. I live in Loudoun County, Va, near a town called Leesburg. In Leesburg I guess they decided to help the environment. The Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco are all within walking distance of each other.

    • emptywheel says:

      If you read the whole article, it’s pretty clear they ARE losing market share to ToysRUs and Target, as much because they don’t have the most-wanted toys as because of their mark-ups.

      • ThingsComeUndone says:

        If you read the whole article, it’s pretty clear they ARE losing market share to ToysRUs and Target, as much because they don’t have the most-wanted toys as because of their mark-ups.

        They have had a bad 6 quarters of same store sales I assume they can buy the must have toys why they don’t buy them, why they are marking toys up before Christmas still makes no sense to me.

        • cwaltz says:

          I’m betting they are expecting heavy traffic right before the holidays and are hoping to wring more profit and boost December numbers. As Christmas approaches the end of the season shoppers aren’t going to get bargains, they’re gonna get penalized for waiting until the last moment(even if some may be putting it off because they can’t afford to think about toys.)

        • Kelly Canfield says:

          It’s called “margin.”

          If you’re going to sell a bit less toys, why sell them cheaper?

          Math example:

          If Wal-Mart toy sales are $1B (just an example number) raising prices to pre-rollback of about 3% (again, fake number) is = $30Million

          Don’t be fooled – Wal-Mart doesn’t care about percents in the abstract, they care about actual $$$.

      • jimjr says:

        I hear that, there’s some southern IL towns where everything else closed up. In Chicago, there’s NIMBy’s marching against Walmart on the elite north side, while they let the first Walmart(s) in on the more minority population south side, after many years of refusing to let them in anywhere. Daley sold out the parking meters, and now the Walmart. Appropriate that Rahm is now primed to take over.

        • eCAHNomics says:

          Town R govt here was replaced by Ds a decade or more ago over WalMart. They didn’t come in, but Lowe’s managed to get a megastore on the town border.

        • ottogrendel says:

          A couple years ago I was doing some research in a small town in my state that had fallen on such hard times that they took to burning PCBs in the 1980s from states with stricter environmental laws as a way to make a buck (they have high rates of cancer there now). The old downtown business district is almost a ghost town. The town had just approved the construction of a Wal Mart, and a member of the local government told me how the town would benefit both from the Wal Mart and be able to revitalize their decrepit old business district at the same time. She wasn’t crazy, just desperate.

        • cwaltz says:

          The toys seem pretty competitively priced in my market. We have a Walmart, Target and Kmart. I actually split my shopping up among the three as well as hit an independant local shop(way higher priced but had niche items such as the playmobil advent my kids look forward to annually).

      • PJEvans says:

        They’ve driven out the competition in a lot of them, and only partly by undercutting the prices.

        My view of W*lM*rt is that you get what you’re paying for, which is crappy merchandise. Pay a little more somewhere else, and get better quality without the need to replace the crappy stuff as often. (I’ve heard of at least one manufacturer that stopped selling to W*lM*rt because they couldn’t maintain their quality and meet the price they were being asked to sell at.)

  4. Prairie Sunshine says:

    Not to worry. According to USA Today the kidz are asking Santa for such lavish gifts as coats. Shoes and socks. Mittens this year. Oh, yeah, and the little boy who asked Santa to find his momma in heaven and give her a hug.

    Guess the Walton family is not-visitin’ schoolkids along with Mr. Boehner these days.


    • emptywheel says:

      There was one of those articles–about what kids were asking for this year–which repeated a girl asking for money because her mom needed it for food.

      Couldn’t find it–but it’s the one I meant to contrast the Waltons’ greedy bastards with.

  5. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Walmart is taking its tax cut money and using that to expand into other countries less well off countries where the people have less money.

    Wal-Mart’s international operations currently comprise 4,263 stores and 660,000 workers in 15 countries outside the United States.[60] There are wholly owned operations in Argentina, Brazil, Canada,and the UK. With 2.1 million employees worldwide, the company is the largest private employer in the US and Mexico, and one of the largest in Canada.[61] In the financial year 2010, Wal-Mart’s international division sales were $100 billion, or 24.7% of total sales.[43]


    Its ok to invest in other countries but why is Wallmart sacrificing market share in America a country with the biggest, richest shoppers to expand in places like Mexico do they like less profit and given Mexico’s crime rate higher insurance premiums?


    Wallmart I bet is not the only company using its tax cut money to create jobs…Overseas.

  6. ruh17 says:

    God bless the free market and all the greedy capitalist assholes along with their corrupt friends in congress. Explain to me again whyI should continue to live in this country? explain to me again whyI should continue to pay my mortgage and my credit card bills… Or any bill for that matter. The end result is the same either way.

    • ottogrendel says:

      Don’t pay your credit card bills. Nothing will happen to you.

      As for reasons to live in the US? A lot of the people are nice . . . and the quality of domestic beers has greatly improved over the last 20 years . . . shit . . . that’s all I got. :)

      Oh, and I recommend Paraguay: easy to get in, cheap, and very few cops.

      • PeasantParty says:

        Paraguay? Why? I don’t think anybody wants to be neighbors with the Bush’s. Of course, you will get to buy your water from them in the future if you live there.

        • ottogrendel says:

          It’s a nice place. The people are decent and they smile at you. And parts of it are damn near lawless. Not because of any criminal element (card game murders notwithstanding), it’s just that . . . out where there is no electricity or running water (quite a bit of the country), you just don’t need that many cops. It’s a good feeling.

      • ruh17 says:

        Agree on three beer front. Wait…. Dos Equis is American right? St Paulie? shoot everythingI drink is foreign.

        a lot of people are nice but a lot of people aren’t. If I had one word to describe the American public in general it would be sheeple.

        • ottogrendel says:

          Shiner has been putting out some great brews lately. Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo is a favorite.

          Sheeple? I’d say scared shitless, from which, unfortunately, it can be a quick ride to sheeplehood. On the bright side, sheeplehood is not an inherent condition. :)

  7. PeasantParty says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if they priced themselves out of the market?

    I hope they raise their prices and keep raising them, and raise them some more. I hope they raise the prices to where NOBODY can shop there anymore.

  8. ruh17 says:

    I just want to live in a country that actually cares for the less fortunate and unlucky people. It has been crystal clear for some time now that this country does not.

  9. Sharkbabe says:

    Good. Fuckin make a toy for your kid. Buy him a harmonica. Fuck this shit.

    My ex-next door neighbors had two small kids, and there were enough toys in that damn house to supply a small nation, including shit like a fucking miniature John Deere freaking tractor for the little kid to drive in the driveway.

    I realize I’m ranting about the disease of mindless consumerism, as opposed to the topic which is corporate greed (its arguable parent). Anyway I’m not sorry to see either of them devour each other. Fuck this meaningless, bizarre way of living and its absurdist excess imperative. I have hated it since I was in fucking kindergarten. Way before I really understood all the ways it hurts people.

    oh well, just a little xmas ranting .. goodnight Maryellen

      • uneasyone says:

        My one-year-old has a lot of toys. Most of them are plastic. They are also stimulative for his intellectual development, which is the important thing. Just try buying non-plastic toys, these days.

        Many, if not most, of his toys are used, purchased from thrift stores. That’s about the best a parent can do these days, unless they are a toymaker.

  10. Teddy Partridge says:

    Just a reminder that no one has rescinded the boycott of Target, which gave money to an anti-gay political action committee that supported the candidacy of the anti-gay GOP candidate for governor in their home state, Minnesota. The guy, Emmer, lost, but the principle still holds.

    Please find a way to spend your Xmas money, if you spend it at big box stores, elsewhere than at Target. Thanks.

    • OldFatGuy says:

      Thanks for informing me of that Teddy. I wasn’t aware, but consider it done. I don’t shop at Target, but my mother does and I drive her there since she’s never driven in her life. Next time she asks, I’ll suggest another option.

      On a related note, it’s that time of year again for the Salvation Army to be standing outside my local Giant supermarket. Wonder if others feel as guilty as I do when I pass it by every time. I feel guilty because I know they do some real good, but their stances on teh gay were very disappointing and thus I boycott them. Don’t know if that’s a popular or oranized boycott or not, just remember them being assholes about the issue too.

      • marymccurnin says:

        The way around this is to give to an organization that helps without prejudice. And then when you walk past the Salvation Army person tell them why you are not giving to them (in a nice way, of course).

        • OldFatGuy says:

          I’m in western Loudoun, Virginia, actually west of Leesburg in a small town called Round Hill.

          There are Giant supermarkets all over the place here. I’ve shopped at the ones in Ashburn and Leesburg, but mostly my local one in Purcellville, which is about 4 miles from my front door.

    • ottogrendel says:

      Thanks. Didn’t know that. I avoid buying from the Salvation Army for the same reason: their anti-gay agenda. My wife and I still buy toys for kids at Christmas for them to distribute. I know, it’s a fine line. But no sense in kids suffering for the behaviors of cruel adults.

  11. Fractal says:

    this is only slightly OT, since Wal-Mart is owned by the Walton family and the Waltons were the poster-child for enormous estates that would dodge billions of dollars in estate taxes under the Obama-Republican taxcut deal.

    The House Rules committee earlier tonight (Wednesday Dec. 15) adopted the rule on the WH taxcut bonuses deal. The House will debate and vote on a major amendment that will claw back some of the gross billions given away in the estate-tax payoff.

    FDLers can hail this as a major success.

    According to the summary on the Rules Committee’s website, the Pomeroy amendment would save $23 billion:

    Pomeroy (ND) – Two-year extension of 2009 estate tax law. The amendment would strike Title III of the Senate amendment to H.R. 4583 and amend the bill to provide two years of estate tax relief at 2009 levels. In calendar years 2011 and 2012, the estate tax exemption amount would be $3.5 million ($7 million total for a married couple) and the maximum tax rate on estates would be 45%. ****************** [snipped out “carryover basis” discussion] ********** The exemption level and rate are consistent with the estate tax proposal included in the President’s FY2010 and FY2011 Budgets. Under the Senate amendment to H.R. 4583, the bill would provide two years of estate tax relief with a $5 million estate tax exemption ($10 million total for a married couple) and a maximum rate of 35%. This amendment would save $23 billion, and would affect a mere 6,600 estates in 2011. These 6,600 estates would receive an average additional tax cut of more than $1.5 million under the Senate bill.

  12. lcdrrek says:

    Yes, they may raise the prices on the toys, but they do say “Merry Christmas” so I am sure the rubes at Fox News Channel are happy with them.

  13. artgurrl says:

    Shouldn’t we be directing families away from mindless consumerism this season? You know, consume less and save the planet for the children instead of teaching them to consume more. Let Walmart’s toy prices go sky high for all I care. Give the kids a camera or art’s and crafts lessons or classes instead. Teach them the gift of giving at the local food bank or homeless shelter or through Heffer Projects. We need to stop being dependent on corporations and get our minds and our children’s minds out of that ridiculous trap.

  14. MadDog says:

    More OT via the AP:

    Guantanamo detainee lawyers ask Poles for probe

    Lawyers for a Guantanamo terrorism suspect asked Polish authorities Thursday to open an investigation into allegations that American agents abused him at a now-shuttered secret CIA prison in Poland.

    Abu Zubaydah’s lawyers said they want to shed light on a system of abuse by the CIA, which remains clouded in secrecy. Options for bringing such cases to U.S. courts have been closed off in recent years, and Zubaydah’s lawyers see Poland as perhaps the only country worldwide that might be willing to investigate the matter.

    “Since 9/11, America has become a dark and angry place and if the rule of law is to be vindicated, it has to start here,” Joseph Margulies, an American lawyer for Zubaydah, said at a news conference in Warsaw…

  15. perris says:

    In a year when kids keep begging Santa for bare necessities for Christmas, the Walton family has been made even richer by Obama and Congress. And the thanks Congress and the American people get is higher prices for toys.

    I have always said this, the cost of an item has nothing to do with the price it sells

    items prices are based on what people will pay, not on what they cost

    walmart has a captive audience now, they can begin to raise their prices, just as home depot, first put all local stores out of business then raised prices while lowering quality

    prices are based on what people will pay not on what an item costs

    • perris says:

      I love having conversations with people who bemoan ball players salary with;

      “ticket prices are so highhhhh, we have to put a caaaappp on what the owners want to payyyyyyyyy”

      I point out, if an owner can charge 100 bucks and maintain good and positive cash return over all, he doesn’t charge 10 bucks, when he can only get 10 bucks he doesn’t charge 100

      thus, walmart recognizes they will still get relatively the same amount of buyers, what they lose will be far offset by the amount they make, therefore, prices go up

  16. b2020 says:

    I found this the other day…

    Assange: “For the rise of social media, it’s quite interesting. When we first started, we thought we would have the analytical work done by bloggers and people who wrote Wikipedia articles and so on. And we thought that was a natural, given that we had lots of quality, important content. Surely it’s more interesting to write an article about top-secret Chinese [inaudible] or an internal document from Somalia or secret documents revealing what happened in [inaudible], all of which we published, than it is to simply write a blog about what’s on the front page of the New York Times, or about your cat or something. But actually it turns out that that is not at all true. The bulk of the heavy lifting — heavy analytical lifting — that is done with our materials is done by us, and is done by professional journalists we work with and by professional human-rights activists. It is not done by the broader community. However, once the initial lifting is done, once a story becomes a story, becomes a news article, then we start to see community involvement, which digs deeper and provides more perspective.”

    My first response was, well, he might not be aware of the emptywheels of the blogging world. But this nonsensical “Walton’s Revenge” post reminds me that one of the many perils of blogging is the need to provide an outrage a day – blog readership and the patience to wait for in-depth work are not exactly fellow travellers, day one responses are all the rage.

    Blogging might “tag”, but it does not by default rework, refine, or, ultimately, publish – not even on the level wikipedia does, not even here, where the commendable timeline collection marks the beginning and the end. Who blogs with a copy editor or an ombudsman? Or reworks a draft post after a week of comments?

    Pace Hullalaboo, I also finally realized that most political blogging just adds another voice to the choir of thousands of mini-Beales asking us 24/7 to open our windows and shout out that “we have enough”. Network, indeed.

    Which makes blog commenting even more nonsensical. Oy vey. I suppose I better stop here.

    Best wishes for 2011!

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