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STORE WARS: When Wal-Mart Comes To Town


Wal-Mart Facts
    Wal-Mart SuperStore
    © 2000, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

  • Hundreds of towns court Wal-Mart. The megastores bring low prices and convenient shopping to rural areas and small towns. They create entry-level jobs and added revenue to local treasuries. Critics say that Wal-Mart creates net job loss in communities, because most of its sales are transferred from existing merchants, resulting in little or no economic gain to the host community.

  • In the United States, close to 100 million shoppers patronize Wal-Mart stores every week. Its scope of operations uses the world's largest computer (surpassing the Pentagon's) and the world's largest fleet of trucks.

  • Wal-Mart's rate of expansion is so rapid that every two days it opens a megastore, and by 2004 it plans to open a store every day. These stores measure over 200,000 square feet in size, include groceries among their 50,000 items and are often open 24 hours a day. In addition, the Wal-Mart Corporation owns smaller Wal-Mart discount stores and SAM'S Clubs.

View a map tracking Wal-Mart's expansion pattern across the U.S.A.

  • Wal-Mart is the largest employer in the United States after the Federal government with over 925,000 employees. Each year, the company hires 550,000 more employees - three times the number of people the U.S. military recruits every year - replacing those lost to rapid turnover and replenishing its workforce. Read more about Wal-Mart's employee policies and practices.

  • In spite of its large volume of sales, Wal-Mart's corporate contributions are small. Wal-Mart ranked last among major discount retailers, donating four-tenths of a percent of its earnings, well behind its competitors (U.S. corporations average just over one percent). A cornerstone of the company philosophy is that it "gives something back" by keeping prices low.

    CD rack and 'clean' label
    top: Wal-Mart's CD section
    bottom: Hip hop CD featuring "clean" label

  • Despite a well-publicized "Made in the U.S.A." campaign, 85 percent of the stores' items are made overseas, often in Third World sweatshops. Read more about sweatshops, Wal-Mart and other U.S. retailers.

  • Wal-Mart demands that hundreds of recording artists, primarily alternative rock, hip-hop and rap musicians "clean up" their lyrics as a condition of distribution, imposing what amounts to cultural censorship, and bans all music carrying a warning label. It also pulls magazines off the shelves that are considered too provocative. Read more about Wal-Mart censorship.

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