Walmart heading to NYC?

This in from Morning Newsbeat:

Walmart Looks To Turn NYC Into A Wondrous Toy, An Aisle Of Joy

Crain’s New York Business reports that Walmart is hunting for potential locations in New York City, noting that the initiative comes two years after then-CEO Lee Scott said that opening a store in the Big Apple was not “worth the effort.” Past attempts have been foiled by a coalition of community members and organized labor interests that objected to the impact a Walmart might have both on small and unionized retailers.

It seems more likely that Walmart will focus on the so-called outer boroughs – Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island – though a Manhattan store has not been ruled out. The ongoing recession is seen as creating an opportunity for Walmart in New York City – more people than ever need both low prices and jobs.

“Now, more than any other time in recent memory, New York City residents want and need better access to our stores so they are not forced to travel to New Jersey or Long Island to benefit from the savings Wal-Mart provides for working families,” wrote a spokesman, Philip Serghini, in an e-mail message. “Hopefully we will be able to bring a store to New York in the near future.”

While there is a general concession that Walmart has done much to rehabilitate its reputation over the past few years, Crain’s reports that the retailer is likely to face similar push-back this time around.

KC's View: It always appears in these situations that local merchants are convinced that the only way they can compete with Walmart is to keep the Bentonville Behemoth from opening anywhere nearby.

One bit of advice to threatened retailers in NYC: start operating now as if Walmart is across the street or down the block. Because it is going to happen. Eventually. New York City is too big, too juicy an apple for Walmart to stay away indefinitely.


Walmart looking a lot like Whole Foods

From Morning Newsbeat…

The Arkansas Democrat/Gazette has an interesting story about how Walmart is utilizing local farmers throughout the US, serving as both a way to cut down on the miles between farm and fork and a way for Walmart to differentiate and distinguish itself in the food business.

The story notes that Walmart buys about 70 percent of its produce from U.S.-based suppliers, but that those in the know seem to feel that more can be done – that better communication and coordination can create a connection between retailers and local farmers that will have both economic and environmental benefits.


World- changing Walmart

Walmart Endorses Ban On Plastic Bags

In North Carolina, the Daily Advance
reports that Walmart “has no objections to a ban on single-use plastic
bags in the beach areas of three counties and expects to comply fully
with the measure now that it’s become law.”

The three counties
affected are the Outer Banks areas of Hyde, Currituck and Dare
counties. It requires retailers with five or more stores in North
Carolina and at least 5,000 square feet of sales floor space to offer
paper bags made from 100-percent recyclable materials or reusable tote

“This (change) is right in line with our values,” says
Chris Neeley, a spokesman for Walmart. “Walmart has been a leader
around the country in gradually removing plastic bags from our stores,
and easing people in to reusable bags. We’re a corporate leader in the
green movement.”

The law actually affects only one Walmart
store, but Neeley says that the company could implement changes in
other units based on lessons learned in that single unit.

KC's View:
Another case of Walmart doing the right thing. It is easy to imagine
Walmart getting ahead of the curve on this issue by announcing that it
is eliminating plastic bag usage completely from its stores.


Walmart ponies up…

Walmart To Award Bonuses…But Nobody Is Likely To Get Upset

Walmart said yesterday that it will be awarding $2 billion in bonuses, profit sharing and discounts to its hourly workers, a continuation of a program begun by former CEO Lee Scott. In announcing the new bonuses, the new CEO, Mike Duke, told employees, “I believe the key to our success was how associates in every area of our company came together around our shared purpose.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The financial incentives for hourly workers include $933.6 million in bonuses that the retailer is handing out Thursday. There is another $788.8 million in profit sharing and 401(k) contributions, and hundreds of millions of dollars in merchandise discounts and contributions to the employees' stock purchase plan.”

The bonus averages $933.60 for each qualified hourly employee.

In his memo, Duke wrote, "Now we need to accelerate and broaden all of our efforts. We have a vision for where we want to take Wal-Mart. Our strategy is working and we're building momentum. As we move with a new sense of urgency and with every associate participating, we will make our business even stronger."

The announcement of the bonuses being given to hourly employees came as the nation has virtually erupted in outrage over $160 million in bonuses paid by AIG to executives, including those who had worked in parts of the company’s business that contributed to a financial collapse that caused the federal government to invest $170 billion to bailout AIG.

KC's View: Listen, Walmart is not without blemishes. But there is much to admire about the company, especially at a time when the spotlight is on so much corporate excess in the United States.

Some execs spend millions redecorating their offices, and millions more to feather the already plush nests of senior execs. Walmart forces people to share rooms when on the road, famously decorates some of its offices with store-bought lawn furniture, and distributes billions in bonus money to hourly workers who are being hard-hit by the recession.

I still think that Lee Scott ought to be on the short list for some job in the Obama administration. (Though probably not in the Department of Labor.) He’d bring instant credibility and a track record.