Wal-mart does more good than harm, I think. I realize that it does not pay its workers much or give them benefits. However, Wal-mart does help many poor people by allowing them a cheap place to shop. In some areas, Wal-mart is the only grocery store.
I guess this is as good a place to vent about Wal-Mart as any. I shop at Wal-Marts because of their low prices, but no single corporation has contributed to the demise of mom-and-pop businesses more than Wal-Mart. In the past two towns in which I have lived (both in Florida), Wal-Marts cause unwanted traffic problems. Worse yet, I have to constantly check my receipts, since so many of the items I purchase are electronically scanned incorrectly--and always with a higher price than advertised. Three of the last four times I have purchased items at my local store I have had to spend time in yet another line to receive refunds. It's no wonder Wal-Mart is one of the wealthiest and most reviled businesses in America.
WalMart drives out small local businesses, and replaces the lost jobs with very poor jobs in their own stores. WalMart is notorious for keeping almost all of its employees at less than 30 hours a week, so they cannot get job benefits. Even those who are hired full time cannot access health insurance (which they have to pay for) until they have been employed for two full years.
WalMart, because of its huge buying power, has been responsible for lowering living standards for a large number of laborers in China; WalMart's insistence on low prices means that many workers in China are paid for less than minimum wage, and are subjected to grossly substandard working conditions.
If you actually check carefully, WalMart's prices are not uniformly cheaper than competitors' - I have done comparison shopping between my local WalMart and a grocery store that is part of a regional chain. WalMart has cheaper "loss leaders", but for a great number of products, the regional chain is the same price or cheaper. A company called Zenith Consulting published a study that indicates that what WalMart is really good at is making consumers think that their prices are lower.
WalMart is a monopoly, which has been long recognized as a bad thing for the economy and the country as a whole. However the company has become so politically powerful that no one will do anything about it.
I tend to agree with Post 3, though I suspect that WalMart also creates jobs that didn't previously exist. Ultimately, I think it comes down to whether you think wages or prices are more important as ways of measuring how consumers are doing. According to most of what I've read, WalMart has driven both down. I'm pretty fatalistic about its effects. Beyond holding WalMart accountable for violations of work conditions, I don't think we'll see much interest in restricting its expansion.
If you were to ask small town businessmen about Walmart, they would let you know that it has meant the end of the main streets and small businesses. On the other hand, when Walmart moves in it brings lots of jobs and consumerism. For the shopper, it has been a great asset because of the varietyof goods, lower prices, and ease of shopping. Like everything in the world, there are two sides to this story. I certainly understand the small businessmen's points of view; but I do not Walmart to go away either.
I agree with the post above. My standard answer about Wal-Mart is that it's good for Americans but not good for America. In the short term it offers inexpensive goods to people who might be struggling, but in the long run it is killing small businesses and replacing middle class jobs with minimum wage jobs.
That really depends on who you ask. For consumers, yes? You get a wide selection at good prices and there are a zillion stores so you won't have to drive far.
But if you ask the folks who are trying to run small businesses in the same area, they'll say Wal-Mart makes it really tough, if not impossible, to be profitable.
Walmart is great for the consumers, like the post above mention. However, it hurts local businesses that cannot compete with their inexpensive goods as well as the manufacturers of the good at Walmart dice they have to compete with other brands and have to lower their product price do that Walmart will choose them.