Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Does Walmart help poor people?

Reuters pokes holes in a $50 billion claim

Does Walmart help poor people?

(Sharon Gekoski-Kimmel / Staff Photographer)
(Sharon Gekoski-Kimmel / Staff Photographer)

Obama adviser Jason Furman has famously claimed that Walmart, the largest U.S. retailer and the largest private employer in Pennsylvania and many other states, saves poor Americans $50 billion a year by selling groceries more cheaply than other chains.

How? Walmart buys in enormous bulk; and it doesn't have to pay union pensions and healthcare, among other old-line grocery expenses.

The claim that Walmart helps the poor has been used to socially justify Walmart's low wages.

But, writing for Reuters, bond-watcher Cate Long pokes holes in Furman's widely-quoted number by pointing out, among other things, that total Walmart grocery sales are less than $75 billion/year.

Read her item here: http://blogs.reuters.com/muniland/2012/11/28/a-truth-bomb-for-walmart-supporters/

As lead grocery shopper for my family of 8, I can testify that Walmart sometimes has excellent prices for canned herring and other packaged goods, but its meat and produce prices are not competitive with my local Shop-Rite. Long says Walmart's former pricing advantage has eroded. 

Joseph N. DiStefano
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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