Friday, July 16, 2010

The Wal-Mart Effect

Book: The Wal-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman

"Always low prices. Always"

It is that mission statement that forces Wal-Mart employees and suppliers to continue to reduce product cost in order to maintain shelf space in the Wal-Mart stores. Pare costs out of product and the retailing of that product. Not only has that Wal-Mart focus impacted their operations, it has also affected the entire retail industry -- from groceries to consumer products.

Isn't that American capitalism. Satisfy the customer's shopping goal of the lowest price. What is so bad about that. In order to achieve that, the manufacture of the consumer product is sent to another country because labor is cheaper and those countries don't have all those annoying rules about "... things like work hours, safety, overtime, breaks and days off, proper equipment, health regulations, fire exits; it’s about what a factory cannot emit into the water and air as it manufactures things, and how emissions must be treated in advance and handled."

There was a lot I knew about Wal-Mart. However, what surprised me was their size, their growth, and their sales income portion of consumer spending. Can this continue. What happens when they are the only choice. At that point they will be the "company store."

Although the book was written in 2005, the theme and the concerns of the book are still valid five years later. Pick up the book or an eBook version (my choice) for the details and statistics that will either support you in applauding the company or have you searching for alternatives -- or at least be more aware when shopping at Wal-Mart.

In the interests of disclosure: I've never been a fan of Wal-Mart. If another choice exists, I do not shop at Wal-Mart.

For more about the book: The Wal-Mart Effect Book 


  1. Growl. This book sounds like standard blue-state prejudice against Walmart, primarily because they are anti-union. Why don't they move to Detroit and join the UAW and see if they can get a job.

    Let Starbucks (Seattle), Nike (Portland) sneakers and the iPhone (Bay Area) be made by unionized employees first, before blue-staters give Walmart advice.

    When a customer comes out of the Walmart with a few extra bucks left in his wallet, he can spend those bucks at local specialty stores that don't compete against Walmart. Walmart only sells daily staples and commodities.

  2. There was lots of hesitation before I posted this review. The book is so much more in that terse couple of paragraphs. The book is not a blue states approach, but merely the facts about the company and its impacts.
    For a better description of the book, read from the book's website: The Book

  3. I found myself working for WalMart when I left NYC and returned South at least for 7 months, not a fun job. The bad thing in this area is our County Council lied to us over and over again in the local rag saying there WAS NO WALMART SUPERSTORE coming, and within months construction began, SO many of our local businesses have closed their doors, now Walmart is downsizing its departments...there are so many items they DONT carry anymore, and since all of the competition is out of business we are stuck with the Cheap made in China crap-what about quality, what about variety? Now they are replacing brand names with their own line, Great Value so our choices are becoming fewer and fewer.

  4. I like Walmart and, oddly enough, have found many of the Great Value items are made in the USA.

  5. Barb and Ron,
    To set the record straight, I do shop at Wal-Mart when that is convenient. My point was, for me, Wal-Mart is not destination shopping.
    Perhaps a blog entry on my Wal-Mart thoughts beyond the book would be something I should consider.


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