Earlier this week, data from the Commerce Department showed slowing retail sales growth in January. But on Friday, a report from Bloomberg revealed a potentially more troubling economic indicator: Fewer shoppers are coming to Walmart.
"Sales are a total disaster," Jerry Murray, a vice president at Walmart, wrote in a recent email obtained by Bloomberg. Murray wrote February was off to the slowest start he'd seen in seven years.
Walmart said in a statement: "As with any organization, we often see internal communications that are not entirely accurate, that lack the proper context and represent individual opinions."
The news is another worrying sign that the end of the payroll tax holiday on Jan. 1 has forced many Americans to cut back. The expiration of the tax cut raised taxes by about $1,000 on a worker making $50,000 per year, according to the Tax Policy Center. A recent report in the New York Times offered a look at the consequences of the tax increase, which hit Americans with the smallest paychecks hardest. Those Americans are indeed most apt to shop at Walmart.
The Bloomberg report sent Walmart's stock price tumbling around 2 p.m. on Friday. It was down 2.15 percent for the day with a share price of $69.30.
Earlier on HuffPost:
Barbie's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Barbies-Friend-Midge-Pregnant-Tummy/dp/B0006M1ANI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355852020&sr=8-1&keywords=pregnant+barbie">pregnant friend Midge</a> was pulled from Walmart shelves <a href="http://blogs.static.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/34728.html">after customers complained</a>. This item is still banned from Walmart stores.
<a href="http://blogs.static.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/34728.html">Walmart banned</a> Prince's 1988 album <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Lovesexy-Explicit/dp/B002C7GBQG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1355852260&sr=8-2&keywords=lovesexy">Lovesexy</a> because of the album's cover. This CD is currently not sold in Walmart stores.
The Morning After Pill
Walmart <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/12-goods-that-make-walmarts-blacklist-2010-10?op=1">refused to sell the morning-after pill</a> between the years 1999 and 2006, until <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/03/03/health/main1369355.shtml">a lawsuit </a>forced them to sell the drug, and it is sold in Walmart stores today.
America: The Book
Walmart said <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Daily-Show-Stewart-Presents-America/dp/B0047PBRJW/ref=sr_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355854859&sr=1-11&keywords=jon+stewart+america">The Daily Show's book </a>was banned because of its photoshopped naked<a href="http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2004-10-19-stewart-book_x.htm"> pictures of Supreme Court Justices</a>. The book is currently not sold in Walmart stores.
Al Snow Action Figure
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/WWE-Classic-Superstar-Collector-Series/dp/B0014P16HG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1355855045&sr=8-2&keywords=al+snow">This action figure</a> was banned after two professors at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University complained that the mannequin head<a href="http://blogs.static.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/34728.html"> the character and action figure carry</a> around promotes violence against women. This item is not currently sold at Walmart.
All of Marilyn Manson's music and DVDs are <a href="http://xfinity.comcast.net/slideshow/news-bannedfromwalmart/11/">banned from Walmart</a>. Marilyn Manson's music is still banned from Walmart stores today.
Racy Men's Magazines
Walmart does not carry what it calls "lad mags" or <a href="http://xfinity.comcast.net/slideshow/news-bannedfromwalmart/11/">racy men's magazines</a> like FHM, Maxim, and Stuff. This ban is still in effect today.
Sheryl Crow's Debut Album
Walmart banned <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Sheryl-Crow/dp/B000002G62/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1355858011&sr=8-8&keywords=sheryl+crow">this album</a> because one song on the CD <a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/33553/wal-mart-bans-sheryl-crow-s-next-album">contained the following lyrics</a>: "Watch out sister/Watch out brother/Watch our children as they kill each other/with a gun they bought at the Walmart discount stores." This CD is not currently sold in Walmart stores.
Uncovered: The Whole Truth About The Iraq War
Walmart <a href="http://www.alternet.org/story/24069/the_wal-mart_thought_police">refuses to carry</a> this <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Uncovered-Whole-Truth-About-Iraq/dp/B0001IXT36/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355858320&sr=8-1&keywords=uncovered+whole+truth+iraq">documentary</a> about the Iraq War in its stores. However, the DVD is currently available for purchase on Walmart's website.
George Carlin's Book
Walmart deemed <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Bring-Chops-George-Carlin/dp/B004SUZ72E/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355858439&sr=1-3&keywords=george+carlin+jesus">this book </a>to be<a href="http://money.cnn.com/2004/10/28/news/newsmakers/walmart_carlin/"> too provocative to sell</a>. However, the book is currently available for purchase on Walmart's website.
Goo Goo Dolls Album
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/A-Boy-Named-Goo-Dolls/dp/B000002MUE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355858670&sr=8-1&keywords=a+boy+names+goo">This album</a> was banned <a href="http://www.alternet.org/story/24069/the_wal-mart_thought_police">because of its cover art</a>. This CD is not currently for sale at Walmart.
Green Day's Album
This <a href="http://www.amazon.com/21st-Century-Breakdown-Green-Day/dp/B001SAQVDQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355862288&sr=8-1&keywords=21st+century+breakdown">Green Day album</a> was banned because the band<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/21/green-day-vs-walmart_n_206225.html"> refused to edit their lyrics</a>. The CD is still not available for sale at Walmart.