And I’m a lucky one…I can choose to make this decision because I am not living in a one-horse supercenter town…who is with me?
The giant retailer’s low prices often come with a high cost. Wal-Mart’s relentless pressure can crush the companies it does business with and force them to send jobs overseas. Are we shopping our way straight to the unemployment line?
Wal-Mart is not just the world’s largest retailer. It’s the world’s largest company–bigger than ExxonMobil, General Motors, and General Electric. The scale can be hard to absorb. Wal-Mart sold $244.5 billion worth of goods last year. It sells in three months what number-two retailer Home Depot sells in a year. And in its own category of general merchandise and groceries, Wal-Mart no longer has any real rivals. It does more business than Target, Sears, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Safeway, and Kroger combined.
Wal-Mart wields its power for just one purpose: to bring the lowest possible prices to its customers. At Wal-Mart, that goal is never reached. The retailer has a clear policy for suppliers: On basic products that don’t change, the price Wal-Mart will pay, and will charge shoppers, must drop year after year. But what almost no one outside the world of Wal-Mart and its 21,000 suppliers knows is the high cost of those low prices. Wal-Mart has the power to squeeze profit-killing concessions from vendors. To survive in the face of its pricing demands, makers of everything from bras to bicycles to blue jeans have had to lay off employees and close U.S. plants in favor of outsourcing products from overseas.
Washington Post- Chinese Workers Pay for Wal-Mart’s Low Prices Retailer Squeezes Its Asian Suppliers to Cut Costs
With sales of more than $245 billion a year, Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the United States, still the ultimate consumer market. China is the most populous country, with 1.3 billion people, most still poor enough to willingly move hundreds of miles from home for jobs that would be shunned by anyone with better prospects. The Communist Party government has become perhaps the world’s greatest facilitator of capitalist production, beckoning multinational giants with tax-free zones and harsh punishment for anyone with designs on organizing a labor movement.
More than 80 percent of the 6,000 factories in Wal-Mart’s worldwide database of suppliers are in China. Wal-Mart estimates it spent $15 billion on Chinese-made products last year, accounting for nearly one-eighth of all Chinese exports to the United States. If the company that Sam Walton built with his “Made in America” ad campaign were itself a separate nation, it would rank as China’s fifth-largest export market, ahead of Germany and Britain.
With its near-religious devotion to the pursuit of “everyday low prices,” Wal-Mart illustrates why U.S.-based multinationals with operations here have not joined in the chorus for protectionism. “For the benefit of the consumer, we should buy merchandise where we get the best value,” said Andrew Tsuei, managing director of Wal-Mart’s global procurement center in Shenzhen.
Read more…click on the links…