Following a whirlwind summer love affair, Wal-Mart has dumped Singles Shopping nights. The retail chain started “shop and flirt” nights at a Virginia store, in mid-July. Just two weeks later, Wal-Mart ended the fling, claiming “it was time to move on”. The retailer said that some people had complained.

My guess is that Wal-Mart faced two problems with the program. The first is that Singles Night might have alienated shoppers who weren’t looking to be picked up. Even though shoppers were supposed to put red bows in their carts, the mere existence of Singles Night might have been enough to see some shoppers harassed by overly zealous singles. Perhaps Wal-Mart could have run the program after regular store hours.

Wal-Mart may also have feared liability. What happens if shoppers are harassed or end up dating a less than shining citizen? Shoppers probably didn’t have to sign the sort of waiver that match-making websites and dating services offer. In a worst-case scenario, perhaps shoppers could sue Wal-Mart for facilitating a relationship with an abuser, stalker, or otherwise undesirable person.

Wal-Mart’s not talking. What could cause such a big company to abandon a well-hyped program after just two weeks? Similar endeavours worked well for the company in Germany. But the US is a litigious nation with different social norms. What works well in one market won’t always work in another.

(c) 2005 by Andrea Coutu. Vancouver Marketing Consultant. All rights reserved.