Walmart Inc. just highlighted the dark side of inflation.

The world's biggest retailer on Tuesday reported profit that fell short of Wall Street expectations and downgraded its outlook for full-year earnings per share from a mid-single-digit increase to a 1 percent decline. CEO Doug McMillon said the bottom-line results were "unexpected" and reflect the "unusual" environment. The company's shares fell as much as 9 percent.

The outcome is certainly surprising—and should be a warning sign for the broader consumer economy.

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