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Nation's Largest Retailer Suggests Browsers Buy or Die

BENTONVILLE, ARK. ( — In an effort to increase its so-called "closing ratio" — the percentage of all store visitors that actually buy merchandise — Wal-Mart today said it may execute shoppers who claim they are "just looking."

It's Really More a Guideline than a Rule

According to Wal-Mart Chairman Robson Walton, it "absolutely will not be official company policy" to exterminate window shoppers, but will instead be an "entirely personal decision" left up to individual store managers.

To aid supervisors in their efforts, however, the company will install and staff a tactical "Repercussive Services Desk" in each of its 2,500 retail stores, an expense Walton said will be more than offset by the revenue increase expected as browsers are suddenly inspired to buy.

Currently, the closing ratio at Wal-Mart stores averages about 50 percent, meaning half of its visitors leave without making a purchase. With $167 billion in annual sales, instituting a policy that effectively makes buyers out of every store visitor could double revenues, said Jack Bandag, Wal-Mart's new Director of Repercussive Services. He added, however, that it "absolutely will not be official company policy" to value revenue over human life, except in the case of union members.

Such an approach, analysts said, would have the added benefit of fighting off customer defections to the Internet. As have other retailers, Wal-Mart has a growing problem with NRPCUs (Non Revenue-Producing Corporeal Units), who examine a product in person at a brick-and-mortar store, then go online to order the same product at a lower price.

While implying NRPCUs are "a waste of valuable floor space on Market Earth," Bandag said it's possible that managers could choose to let browsers live, or institute lesser punishments, such as knee-capping, cold-cocking, or the "roundhouse spleen buster."

All of this will be spelled out in a forthcoming Repercussive Services handbook, which also explains how sales personnel should approach a suspected NRPCU: If the suspect's response to the question, "May I help you?" is "No thank you. Just looking," potential employee responses range from "I encourage you to reconsider," to "I'll wring your fucking neck with this two-piece cotton-poly jogging suit you been staring at for 10 minutes."

Even though the policy is not official, by this morning word had reached Wal-Marts across the country, boosting both consumer sales and employee morale.

"Before, if I asked to help somebody, they blew me off or acted like I wasn't there," said Crystal Tanner, a 17-year-old associate sales partner at a Chicago-area Wal-Mart. "But now, if I so much as say 'Hey,' consumers snap to attention. It's like I'm the Alan Greenspan of retail."

Wal-Mart said it decided to go forward with Repercussive Services after testing it at a store in Ohio, where the closing ratio jumped from 43 percent to 97 percent after employees told anyone who claimed to be "just looking" that they would "have their balls handed to them on a fuckin' platter." In a possibly related statistic, that same store had the highest percentage of impulse purchases of any in the company's chain.


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