The last time the largest private employer in the United States released its quarterly financial results, it promised 500,000 of its workers pay raises.
In February, when Wal-Mart announced its 2014 financial performance, it rolled out plans to pay its workers more money. Last month, it raised the starting pay for current workers to $9 an hour. By February of next year, it has pledged to raise everyone's pay to at least $10 an hour. Department managers will start at $13 this summer, rising to $15 by early next year. That's a half million workers getting pay hikes.
The higher pay won't show up on the quarterly results Wal-Mart releases Tuesday morning. And compared to a year ago, lower gas prices probably won't show up on Wal-Mart's bottom line either. While pump prices have fallen $1 per gallon in the past year, the extra money in consumers' pockets has not been flowing into retailers.
Lower gas prices, lower unemployment and the effort to pay workers more have not helped Wal-Mart. Shares are down 8 percent this year while the stock prices of competitors Target and Costco are slightly higher.
Wal-Mart's growth strategy has been opening new stores and pushing down vendors on price. In October, three months before announcing the pay increases, the company made customer service its first priority toward improving its business now. In the week ahead, investors will see if shoppers are buying it.
Tom Hudson, financial journalist, hosts "The Sunshine Economy" on WLRN-FM in Miami, where he is the vice president of news. Follow him on Twitter HudsonsView.