Walmart's (WMT) recent stock surge might be a good sign for the nation's biggest discounter, but it also highlights the economic fragility of America's low- and moderate-income consumers, its core shoppers.
On July 27, shares of the world's biggest retailer soared to a record high of $74.80.
Walmart's numbers are considered bellwethers for the retail industry. But on the other side of the equation, when Walmart sees its earnings improving, the theory goes, it's often because times are tougher for the nation's financially strapped.
Walmart's stock surge followed the retailer's healthy first-quarter earnings report. For the most recent quarter, which ended in April, the discounter posted its biggest comparable-store sales gains in three years.
Meanwhile, poverty in America is poised to reach its highest level since 1965, the Associated Press reports. The poverty rate is expected to reach 15.7%, up from 15.1% in 2010, according to a survey of economists, think tanks and academics.
Store staff called the police, and the man was charged with two felonies: attempting to obtain property under false pretenses, and presenting a phony document as a legitimate form of payment.
A shopper looking for a new wallet at a Walmart store in Falmouth, Mass., discovered 10 human teeth in the zipper compartment of the billfold he was about to buy. One of the adult teeth had a filling, according to police. Save for its toothy contents, the wallet appeared new, complete with merchandise tags.
In one of the more creative attempts at shoplifting, an 18-year-old man outfitted in a cow suit swiped 26 gallons of milk from a Walmart in Garrisonville, Va. The man was seen crawling as he exited the store in an effort to emulate an ambling bovine.
The cow impersonator was at least generous with his dairy loot: Witnesses told the sheriff's deputies that he was handing out the stolen milk jugs to passersby outside the store. Law enforcement officials later caught the milk thief at a nearby McDonald's.
A man was glued to his seat -- literary, in the men's bathroom at a Walmart store in Elkton, Md. In what appeared to be an April Fool's prank that went way too far, the 48-year-old victim got stuck to a toilet seat smeared with glue and couldn't get up.
The man called for help and emergency workers tried in vain to unstick the man. Eventually, they gave up and unbolted the seat from the toilet, then took the man to the hospital with it still attached to him. There, the seat was removed from his ... er, seat. The man was said to have suffered only minor injuries to his derriere.
To conclude with an episode that is equal parts strange and sweet, Wayne and Susan Brandenburg first met at a Walmart in Brunswick County, North Carolina, when Susan was a cashier and Wayne was a shopper.