Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Everyday Low Vices: How much should we hate Wal-Mart?

A good article here in Washington Monthly. This is a great article describing pre- and post-Sam Walton Wal-Mart.

Here is a good point. The entire sector of discount retailers—from Target to Costco to Best Buy to Home Depot—does much the same thing. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart's critics tend to focus on the company's low wages and paltry benefits, or its effect on small towns, or its reliance on outsourcing. But these, too, are by and large sins of the entire discount retail sector. So why pick on Wal-Mart?

The answer is that Wal-Mart really is different. In terms of annual revenue, Wal-Mart is nearly four times the size of The Home Depot, the country's second largest retailer, and almost twice the size of Target, Costco, and Sears (which includes Kmart) combined. That means the company exerts pressure on the entire sector to imitate its methods—including its treatment of workers. That would be less worrisome if Wal-Mart's record didn't stand out within the sector. But there are strong indications that, when it comes to how it treats its employees, Wal-Mart really is worse than the rest.

Read it all.

NOTE: Comments on this article can be read here.

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