Wow--I've never had the type or volume of response to a blog posting as I got today! Mention the world's largest retailer and readers and TV viewers take notice. Suggest or discuss whether Wal-Mart has actually had a positive impact on competitive pricing and inflation and you get more than 200 blog responses! At least I did. But I have to say, it seems one organization was particularly motivated to write to me.
WalMart Watch is a group whose web site says they are "devoted to studying the impact of large corporations on society" and which classifies itself as a "joint project of The Center for Community & Corporate Ethics, a 501c3 organization." It sent out a mass email (see it below) calling for readers to write in to respond to my posting about Wal-Mart's price cuts and a recent study conducted by Global Insight that claims that Wal-Mart saved shoppers $652 dollars during last year’s holiday season.
The study was an analysis of Wal-Mart's impact on consumer budgets. After reporting on Wal-Mart's price cuts yesterday, today I posted the transcript of my interview with Economist Chris Hollingand his financial analysis of the Wal-Mart Effect.
So, take a look at how fired up some readers got:
From: Beth M
"It is clear that Wal-Mart used fuzzy math to arrive at the savings number for last Christmas. I am also concerned about the safety and quality issues with Wal-Mart products.
And, of course, Wal-Mart increases unemployment by putting mom and pap shops out of business. Lastly, I know that I pay lots of tax money to provide healthcare to Wal-Mart employees because Wal-Mart keeps their prices low by policies such as not providing healthcare to employees. It is ironic that conservatives that own and run Wal-Mart are against national healthcare, yet they have manipulated our capitalist system to provide their employees with government healthcare. How brilliant. I wonder how much anti-national-healthcare-money comes from those who are part of the Wal-Mart company. How utterly brilliant."
From: Susan Shannon
"Wal-Mart cuts prices to control and skew the market, not to save the consumer money. If Wal-Mart was truly concerned about the consumer, it would realize that the consumer needs healthcare, a safe environment, choice and a living wage, all of which are adversely affected by Wal-Mart's policies and methods. Wal-Mart may save us money in the short run, but in the long run, communities suffer irreparable damage."
From: Jane Murray Balogh
"Federal Way, Washington got its' second Wal-Mart and it is going to cost a fortune to upgrade the surrounding roads. It has killed many businesses in the area.
Wal-Mart may spew low prices, but they could charge the same low prices and keep manufacturing here and pay employees better including health benefits. One problem! Their profit margin would be less. If they would use this criteria for business, the COMMUNIST Chinese government would get less from the sale of its' products to build the Chinese military. Americans are a selfish lot, thinking only of saving a few pennies rather than the betterment of the country as a whole."
From: Judith Carter
"Does Wal-Mart save you money? At what cost to the rest of the planet, to this country, to your community? I have watched vital small towns sicken and die after Wal-Mart moves in--independent businesses, independent thought, creativity, compassion...wither and die. Sound over-dramatic? I don't think so. I might shop at a Wal-Mart if it were the last store on earth, but not otherwise. For the same reasons I pay more out of my limited income for organic produce and cruelty-free products, I pay a little more (but not always) at as many independent retailers as possible."
From: Mary Carll
"Wal-Mart is NOT out to save anyone money, they are there to make money at any cost. Lets take a look at the health benefits for one thing, who the hell can afford them on the wages Wal-Mart pays. This is a disgrace and the company should be ashamed of themselves. Public assistance is a given working for Wal-Mart. The goods sold at Wal-Mart come from other countries and the working conditions in those countries are deplorable. Lets take a look at the products recalled for health and safety reasons, lead paint, tainted food for human consumption and for pets. This really doesn't sound like a company that has the best interests of the public or their employees at heart, so No we shouldn't shop Wal-Mart. We are short changing ourselves if we do?"