TODAY   |  November 29, 2013

Walmart CEO: Our employees ‘used to’ working Thanksgiving

Bill Simon, CEO of the retail giant Walmart, tells TODAY that he is comfortable with how much he pays employees and that his workers are familiar with working on the holiday.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> himself. bill simon is the president and ceo of walmart u.s., good morning.

>> good morning, willie. how are you doing today?

>> i'm good. i assume you got overnight numbers. was it a good thanksgiving for walmart?

>> we had a terrific night last night. i was in stores in a couple of different states yesterday and saw customers and associates all happy and shopping. it was really great to see and as we toured the market and saw what was happening with competitors, it was a very, very busy shopping day.

>> walmart's sales have been sluggish over the last three quarters. you yourself tried to tamp down expectations for holiday numbers. what do you think is driving that? why are you expecting a slow holiday?

>> it's very competitive. the market dynamics are interesting too. there's macroeconomic factors, changes in the tax laws earlier in the year as well as some more recent issues with some of the government payments in the snack area on the food business. so customers are challenged and that's why we were out in a big and exciting way on black friday to try to help them make ends meet and so our customers could have a great christmas with their families.

>> as the president of a company that prides itself on being family oriented, do you cringe at all about keeping your store open on thanksgiving? was that a hard decision to make?

>> we have been open on thanksgiving since the 80s. it's what we do. our people are used to working on thanksgiving. they have been there for quite sometime. so opening a little earlier for us because that's what the industry was headed towards wasn't such a big deal . in fact, many people got to go home earlier than they would normally go home on thanksgiving.

>> there will be 1500 protests atwal mart stores across the country. some of your associates and people that represent them are saying they want laiving wage. they want about $25,000 a year which just clears the poverty line for a family of four. are you comfortable with the way you're paying your associates atwal mart?

>> we're proud of the people that work for us. we are. they do a wonderful job and as you have seen yesterday we went from being the largest food store in the morning to being the largest general merchant in the evening. it's phenomenal of what we do. we are proud of the pay we have. we pay in the top half of the retail industry and people will be out asking for me and we understand that frustration after five years of a difficult economy and we're going to do all we can.

>> with respect, though, mr. simon, many of your employees have come out and said i like working atw walmart but i'm not making enough money or getting enough full time hours that i can feed my family or that i can go to walmart and buy a toy for my kids this holiday season . doesn't that bother you a little bit?

>> we have one of the largest percentages of full time work force in retail and we pay in the top half of retail. our industry is a good industry and a great way to start. you can ent you are our company at any level or any age and we have a lot of opportunity for people to progress as they move forward. we have seen hundreds of thousands of people that choose to stay with us for ten years and beyond and build a really wonderful life for themselves and their family.

>> very quickly before i let you go, sir. walmart international announced a new ceo earlier in the week. a lot of people thought it would be you. it was not you. are you disappointed? do you feel snubbed?

>> i appreciate your interest in my career. thank you very much. that's a wonderful question. we have, you know, mike duke is retiring and he has done a wonderful job and he's going to spend more time with his family and companies like ours plan transition electives all the time so we're going to move forward and look forward to having a wonderful rest of the day black friday and a wonderful christmas and holiday selling season.

>> all right. bill simon president of ceo usa. happy holidays to you.

>> thank you.