Is Walmart the killer of local business?
Yes, it’s convenient, and yes, they are everywhere! According to their corporate website, there are over 9,600 of them operating in 28 countries. Impressive.
What does my shopping there do for local business, though?
There is a Walmart less than 5 miles from my house, and yes, I shop there, but lately, I’ve begun to feel twinges of guilt over dollars I’m spending there. I mean seriously. I can get better meat at Vista Foods. I can get a tastier sandwich (than the Subway inside Walmart) at Bob & Cheryl’s Rainbow Drive-In. I have nicer gift options at shops in downtown Bedford. And wine? Why would I buy wine there when I can visit the 309 Winery? And flowers? Walmart’s choice is limited, but Longwood Florist has many options. And Juice I Beauty Salon fixed a haircut I got at Walmart once.
So, where does my money go when I spend it at Walmart? Does it stay in Bedford? Some of it helps pay the people who work there (who, on average earn $11.84 an hour). Walmart pays taxes to the state of Virginia—more than $263 million in Virginia sales taxes and over $53 million in Virginia state and local taxes for 2011—okay, that helps.
In fact, it sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?
Until you realize what their sales were. In their corporate report, Walmart’s worldwide net sales for 2011 were (are you sitting down?) over $419 billion. (Net sales, by the way, is the price of an item to the consumer minus what Walmart paid to acquire it—that means they had $419 billion to operate their business.)
So, of that $419 billion, Virginia got less than .1 percent of that money.
On a side note, the United States National Debt at this time is about $15 trillion. If there were 35 Walmart corporations, they would produce enough operating capital IN A YEAR to clear out the National Debt. Just sayin’.
Which brings us back to my original question: what does my shopping at Walmart do for local business? Not nearly as much as shopping locally would do. My money goes directly into local merchant’s coffers. I feel really good about that.
Unless Walmart decides to pay off the National Debt…that would be helpful.