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Today, the nation’s largest company and number one employer would have Americans believe that its interests are synonymous with the public interest. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., a retailing behemoth with more than 3,700 locations in the U.S., 1.2 million employees, and annual domestic sales of $228 billion stands as consumers’ best friend. With unparalleled purchasing power and marketplace heft, Wal-Mart prides itself on driving down costs all the way through the smallest supplier to ensure the lowest prices on everything from electronics to clothing to house wares to edibles. Wal-Mart also takes credit for stimulating economic development, creating jobs, and filling local coffers with sales and property tax revenues through decisions to locate stores in rural communities, small cities and suburbs, and struggling urban neighborhoods. But there’s a contrary view gaining currency across the land; that is, what’s good for Wal-Mart is bad for America. Skepticism about Wal-Mart ranges from concern about low wages and suspect workplace practices to perceived threats to the ongoing viability of communities’ social and economic infrastructure once the big box store comes to town.


Suggested Citation
Edid, M. (2005) The Good, the Bad, and Wal-Mart (IWS Issue Briefs). Ithaca, NY: School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University.

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