Walmart: "the retailer people love to hate"

Brief introductory comments:
  • To my relative who hates Walmart. It's OK ... I still love you. By the way you have company. Google "I hate Walmart" and one will find these results:
  • For Facebook users, there are multiple "I Hate Walmart" pages. For anyone who cares to "like" this page, go for it!
  • Reminder: No one is forced to work at Walmart. Over 2,000,000 do work there and I support their right to work where they want. For any worker who does not want to work there - work somewhere else! (It's called freedom of choice!) 
  • No one is forced to sell to Walmart. I understand that they drive a hard bargain. That's what capitalism is all about! The last time I did buy something, I bought at the best price (all other things being equal). Most shoppers are like this. I can't think of a time when someone said, I bought X at Y because the price was higher than at Z. Walmart is simply doing the very same thing that you and I do every day! My daughter works for a company that sells to Walmart. I happen to invest in that company. I would be disappointed, as I'm sure other stockholders would be, if that company limited its options and did not sell to Walmart. My son-in-law also works for a company for whom Walmart is probably their # 1 retail distribution channel. The same could be said of my recently retired brother-in-law.
  • No one is forced to shop at Walmart. This article is dated by 10 years but it cites that "Every week, 138 million shoppers visit Wal-Mart's 4,750 stores; last year, 82% of American households made at least one purchase at Wal-Mart." I actually don't shop at Walmart but I actually don't shop! I do have a good Walmart experience. I needed a battery for my truck. The weather was bitterly cold. And Walmart was open (in Maple Grove). It met my expectations for price, availability and service.
  • No one is forced to invest in Walmart. I have. It's not my favorite stock, nor is is my most successful investment. But it manages to pay a 2.3% dividend. The very trendy Abercrombie & Fitch Co pays 1.4%. So as an investor, I'm going for the stodgy Walmart.

  • Here's the sum of my view: I like capitalism and I like free markets. I don't actually get overly passionate about corporations although I have a special fondness for IBM (my first employer) and Wells Fargo (my current employer). I actually think it strange that people would hate (or love) a company. Why not hate evil like abortion (I suspect that many who support "a woman's right to choose" to kill the innocent unborn hypocritically do not support the right of individuals to work at, shop at, sell to or invest in Walmart!) , terrorism, child abuse, drunk driving, world hunger, or pornography (which debases women!). There are hundreds or thousands of other evils to hate and causes to remediate the evil. I mean the Walmart "haters" really need to embrace a cause that is significant. Take a little step and give to the non-profit of your choice. Here's one that does good - the American Heart Association!
There are a plethora of anti-Walmart sites, blog posts, and articles. Here I highlight several reasoned pro-Walmart articles:
  • In Cities That Battle Wal-Mart, Target Gets a Welcome
    "We've complained to national folks, 'Why is Wal-Mart the bad guy?'" said Bernie Hesse, a UFCW official in Minneapolis who has tried to organize Target workers. "But in places like Chicago, the union has zeroed in on Wal-Mart, because it's the retailer people love to hate," he said. By most objective standards, Wal-Mart's compensation is quite similar to its publicly traded retail competitors, and sometimes better. It now offers a more generous health care plan than the retail average; nearly 80% of Wal-Mart's U.S. workers are eligible for health coverage, compared to just 58% for the retail sector as a whole according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Until recently, Target's heath benefits were in some ways worse. It made part-timers wait two years before being eligible for coverage, compared to six months for Wal-Mart. Target now makes part timers eligible after three months. Target declines to disclose its pay, but workers in Chicago said wages for entry level jobs, such as cashiers and inventory stockers, start at the state's minimum of $8.25 an hour. That is lower than the $8.75 hourly wage that Wal-Mart has pledged to pay to start in the city, according to local politicians.
  • Democrats Vs. Wal-Mart (article is 9 years old!)
    The median household income of Wal-Mart shoppers is under $40,000. Wal-Mart, the most prodigious job-creator in the history of the private sector in this galaxy, has almost as many employees (1.3 million) as the U.S. military has uniformed personnel. A McKinsey company study concluded that Wal-Mart accounted for 13 percent of the nation's productivity gains in the second half of the 1990s, which probably made Wal-Mart about as important as the Federal Reserve in holding down inflation. By lowering consumer prices, Wal-Mart costs about 50 retail jobs among competitors for every 100 jobs Wal-Mart creates . Wal-Mart and its effects save shoppers more than $200 billion a year, dwarfing such government programs as food stamps ($28.6 billion) and the earned-income tax credit ($34.6 billion). People who buy their groceries from Wal-Mart -- it has one-fifth of the nation's grocery business -- save at least 17 percent. But because unions are strong in many grocery stores trying to compete with Wal-Mart, unions are yanking on the Democratic Party's leash, demanding laws to force Wal-Mart to pay wages and benefits higher than those that already are high enough to attract 77 times as many applicants than there were jobs at this store. The big-hearted progressives on Chicago's City Council, evidently unconcerned that the city gets zero sales tax revenue from a half-billion dollars that Chicago residents spend in the 42 suburban Wal-Marts, have passed a bill that, by dictating wages and benefits, would keep Wal-Marts from locating in the city. Richard Daley, a bread-and-butter Democrat, used his first veto in 17 years as mayor to swat it away. Liberals think their campaign against Wal-Mart is a way of introducing the subject of class into America's political argument, and they are more correct than they understand. Their campaign is liberalism as condescension. It is a philosophic repugnance toward markets, because consumer sovereignty results in the masses making messes. Liberals, aghast, see the choices Americans make with their dollars and their ballots and announce -- yes, announce -- that Americans are sorely in need of more supervision by . . . liberals. Before they went on their bender of indignation about Wal-Mart (customers per week: 127 million), liberals had drummed McDonald's (customers per week: 175 million) out of civilized society because it is making us fat, or something. So, what next? Which preferences of ordinary Americans will liberals, in their role as national scolds, next disapprove? Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet?


  1. I've got only two major complaints about Wal-Mart; first, they take government subsidies in locating stores, which I consider unethical, and more importantly, their cost-cutting culture often gets out of hand. The minor things are learning that Wal-Mart milk and produce are closer to expiration than other stores, the major things are when their legal department does things like trying to sue a disabled woman into the poorhouse. "Tone-deaf PR" doesn't even begin to cover it.


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