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By Chris Bragg

September 21, 2011

Walmart opponents will release a report today contending the Arkansas retail giant needs to build 159 stores across New York City to achieve its desired profits.

The report, compiled by a labor-backed non-profit called ALIGN, and a professor from the labor-affiliated Murphy Institute at CUNY, contends that more than 100 of Walmart’s new urban “Express” stores would have to be built in New York City for Walmart to achieve a 21 percent share of the city’s grocery market.

That’s the share the company enjoys in the rest of the country – and Walmart leadership has pegged the Express stores as its vehicle to revitalized stalled growth in the United States.

“Walmart is desperate for growth in New York City, because the company has saturated most non-urban U.S. markets and its U.S. stock has been stagnating,” said Josh Kellerman, an ALIGN researcher. “But a few NYC stores will do little to address its weak economic outlook. So the company is looking to open many stores throughout NYC and control a significant portion of the largest consumer market in the U.S.”

In a statement posted on its website last night, Walmart blasted the accuracy of the union-backed report, arguing that Walmart opponents are simply trying to scare New Yorkers.

“Their ‘Walmartization’ of New York forecast is that we’ll somehow open 159 stores here overnight; a guess based on our current market share across the country,” the company said. “The fact that any national market share we currently enjoy took five decades to achieve is somehow lost on them and shows the depths to which they will sink to try and manipulate reality.”

Earlier this week, Walmart released its own data showing that New York City residents are projected to spend 10 percent more at Walmarts outside the city this year than in 2010, with an estimated $215 million in retail sales and $7.7 in sales tax revenue leaving the city.

In its 2011 annual report, Walmart’s president and CEO, Bill Simon, writes that he is “simply not satisfied” with Walmart’s net sales in the United States, and that he sees Walmart Express stores as a key part of their revitalization. The store’s profit margins are smaller than that of Walmart megastores, meaning that many stores would have to open in New York City in order for Walmart to meet its goal of growing sales in the United States.

The union-backed study to be released today estimates Walmart would have to build 114 of the new Walmart Express stores, 34 mid-sized stores and 11 supercenters. The study predicts there would be at least a dozen in each borough, and contends these stores would cause a net loss of 3,980 jobs throughout New York City and a loss of $353 million in wages for retail workers.

Walmart opponents hope the threat of hundreds of stores spread across all five boroughs – rather than the prospect of a few supercenters in far-flung locations across the city – will shift public sentiment against the company coming to New York City.


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