Locations in large cities are the Holy Grail for Walmart (WMT). It has tried mightily, with some success, to enter the Chicago market. Many other metropolitan areas have blocked the retailer, largely over fear that it will damage the prospects of small local stores and regional chains. Walmart knows that store locations in the biggest cities could help the giant retailer increase its faltering U.S. sales by reaching customers in large population centers.
Walmart hasn't given up on New York yet and is looking at real estate throughout the city. It has hired Bradley Tusk, former campaign manager of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, "to help coordinate its lobbying efforts," according to the New York Times.
The battle has begun to shape up along traditional lines, with those organizations that have as their goal the creation of new jobs looking to Walmart for relief, and retail firms that already account for local jobs claiming that the world's largest retailer will take them away. There is, of course, no way to prove that either case is entirely true, which allows the struggle to become more political and less economic. The war can go on for years, as it has already in New York City.
The question is simple, really. Should unrestricted competition be part of any geographic retail area? One argument in favor is that such competition brings down retail prices for all consumers. This, in turn, gives those consumers more money to spend. The entire local economy is aided. Walmart may not be the enemy of local retail establishments if they can charge a reasonable market price. That brand of capitalism has so far been blocked by an alliance of local stores and politicians.
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