Last year, Wal-Mart had strayed from its "everyday low prices," the bedrock philosophy of founder and namesake Sam Walton. Late last year it switched back to emphasizing low prices across the whole store, instead of heavily promoting selected items.
It could take a while to reverse the sales declines. The company predicted in February that revenue at stores open at least a year for its U.S. Walmart stores should be anywhere from down 2 percent to unchanged for the current quarter compared with the same quarter last year.
The campaign is an acknowledgement that Walmart traffic is still weak, Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi said.
"I am concerned that Wal-Mart is taking to the airwaves at the same time it acknowledges it's not where it needs to be with product restoration, therefore risking customer disappointment yet again," he said.
Moreover, he said stores are looking disheveled because new merchandise is coming in faster than Wal-Mart can display and sell it.
"Has customer traffic been so soft in the first quarter that Wal-Mart is willing to go out on a limb and market aggressively despite the store appearance reflecting a sense of disarray?" Sozzi said.
Wal-Mart said it is adding 8,500 items to its inventory, 11 percent more in an average store. In some categories, the selection will be more than before the inventory slashing, McNaughton said.
Time to take off the tuxedo t-shirts, America. The old craptastic Wal-Mart is back!