The small-business killer known as Walmart has decided that continuing to roll out big box stores may not be such a great thing. As Forward Progressives notes, declining sales at its huge super centers haven’t stopped it from continuing to be the country’s largest slave owner employer. They have, however, started to go smaller, with their Neighborhood Markets and Walmart Express stores. They’re even testing a tiny convenience store near their headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.
According to an article in Forbes, at the end of the fiscal year, Walmart had almost 3,200 super centers, 508 discount stores that were retail, but didn’t have a grocery section, and 407 smaller stores; 359 of which were their Neighborhood Markets. Author Walter Loeb said that Walmart’s management team from years ago liked the concept, but felt that Walmart’s customers preferred the big box concept to the smaller stores. Now, newer management has told him that Walmart could have thousands of Neighborhood Markets open within the next five years.
Why has Walmart gone small? Well, Loeb says that it’s far easier to find locations for small stores than it is for big box stores. But what that says is that Walmart wants to expand more easily into areas that have locally owned grocery stores and pharmacies, and even locally owned convenience stores.
Loeb believes that the new, smaller stores will increase competition. But Walmart doesn’t thrive on competition. It thrives on stamping out its competition. Time reported back in February that Bill Simon, Walmart U.S.’s president and CEO, wants people to think of Walmart not just as a place for large shopping trips, but also for quick, pick-up-just-a-few-essentials trips. He blamed the drop in sales at their big box stores partly on cuts to SNAP (what???), and explained that people whose buying power was drying up thanks to low wages and cuts in welfare (pardon???) preferred to make smaller shopping trips nearer to home.
Really? Walmart, the king of low wages and employees on SNAP, is upset that SNAP was cut, and too many people earn too little to shop? Their own policies are coming back to bite them, it seems. But it also seems that they believe their employment policies somehow don’t contribute to that problem.
Even worse; according to the Time article, Michael Exstein of Credit Suisse tried to push Walmart to buy up Family Dollar, and start putting the dollar chains out of business that way. The dollar chains are Walmart’s biggest competition, because they’re the only thing that can undercut Walmart’s prices. Competition? Stamping out your competition, and becoming the only available choice, is not competition.
The damning part of it all is not only do they kill small businesses and jobs, but they put an additional burden on taxpayers by not paying their employees enough to live on without assistance. The same people that hail Walmart’s changing direction also tend to think that too many people receive welfare benefits. But Walmart makes neighborhoods poorer than they already are, and puts more stress on already-stressed public programs. We can assume that these smaller stores won’t treat the employees that come from closed businesses any better than the employees at its big box stores.
Whether it’s a big box store, a Neighborhood Market grocery store, an Express store, or even a convenience store, Walmart is clearly working harder to hurt America…all for its own gain.