Housing Complex

This Week (And Last) in Walmart News

Walmart is everywhere! (Lydia DePillis)

Time for another Walmart roundup!

- NO CONSENSUS IN WARD 4: ANC 4B held a special meeting on Walmart last night in the wake of a report from the District Department of Transportation that criticized developer Foulger Pratt's traffic study. F-P's Adam Davis said it was all just a misunderstanding: DDOT hadn't requested an appendix that had most of the information they were looking for, and subsequent meetings have made progress towards smoothing things out. Also, Commissioner and would-be Norton successor Doug Sloan presented the findings of a survey taken by 210 people outside the Georgia Avenue Safeway over a five-week period in February and March. Methodologically sound or not, 64.3 percent of respondents favored Walmart coming in, while 26.2 percent were against, even though only 35.2 percent thought Walmart would have a positive impact on the local business community, and 45.7 percent thought it would have a negative impact. Finally, Commissioner Sara Green presented a draft community benefits agreement, including the provision that Walmart should dedicate 3.5 percent of pre-tax profits to local non-profit organizations, which Green says that Target has agreed to in other jurisdictions (I've found no evidence of such arrangements). ANC 4B will take a vote on the proposal by June; 4A has already made up its mind.

- THE BEST OFFENSE: Walmart has stepped up its rebuttals recently, deconstructing the oft-quoted Loyola study on Chicago's stores, linking to a NetRightDaily story dissing Respect DC's proposed community benefits agreement, and sending out mailers to Northwest residents (as far as Ward Three). Even if as many people support Walmart as the company believes, they're not taking it for granted.

- MURDOCH GETS INVOLVED: Speaking of that community benefits agreement: Fox News thinks it's socialist.

- UBIQUIMART: This has been going on for a while, but I hadn't noticed it until now: Along with America I Am at the National Geographic Museum, the Urban League's annual gala, and a host of other community organizations, Walmart is sponsoring the traveling warm-and-fuzzy "Choosing to Participate" exhibit at the Historical Society of Washington. They don't need to pay off politicians when they can buy the public trust.

- MEANWHILE: Crazy things are happening in South Africa! Shareholders in the grocery chain Massmart have voted to accept Walmart's $4.2 billion offer for 51 percent of the company, but unions say Walmart's international sourcing network will kill thousands of the country's jobs. The matter is currently before a national competition tribunal.


  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    Was Doug Sloan's poll funded by NOM?

  • noodlez




  • Ward 4 Resident

    OK, so Walmart is trying to deconstruct the 2009 Loyola study. But what about the 2007 Neumark et al. study, which was methodologically much more rigorous as well as geographically not so confined? (Neumark et al. is the source of the much-quoted number that Walmart destroys 1.4 jobs for every job it creates.) They could try, but then that becomes a case of academic "he said, she said" rather than rigorous proof that Walmart creates net jobs. And in any case, even if we were to give Walmart the benefit of the doubt and say that they created net jobs in a political jurisdiction (which in most major metropolitan areas is much smaller than the overall trade area), it's a little hard to argue that retail expansion of any kind creates net jobs in an overall trade area (the MSA, or some subset of the MSA), everything else being equal, for the simple reason that for the most part, people don't buy more goods because there are more stores, they just shift their purchases from one store to another that they prefer for whatever reason (price, proximity, convenience, real or perceived product quality, etc.). All that retail expansion does is shift jobs around between different retailers and/or different political jurisdictions within the MSA.

  • Tanisha G

    Bringing Walmart to DC is by far the WORST idea ever. It will close small Mom and Pop shops, create the worst traffic conditions, and the type of crowd I always see in Walmart is probably not what Ward 4 members would like to have. I went to the one in Hyattsville and Lanham (I think it was there) and talk about messy. I'm all for the small business person so I say NO!

  • AB

    Hey Lydia - I think you meant that they're sponsoring the Greater Washington Urban LEAGUE annual gala, not the Urban INSTITUTE's, which would be more than weird.

  • michaeliceman

    I hear this thrown around a lot so I am just asking as a former Ward 4 resident. What types of "Mom and Pop" busineses would they be running out of the neighborhood? And did Target et al run those same types of businesses out in Columbia Heights? I am not trying to start a fight...yet. I just want to be informed.

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    As I said in the draft ANC4B LTR committee report, which won't be finalized as a submission to the ANC until the end of this week:

    Furthermore, while some studies of the economic impact of Walmart on local economies are equivocal, there is no question that the nature of the retail space and the strength of local commercial districts end ups up changing significantly upon the entry of stores such as Walmart into their local economy. (This is not a phenomenon exclusive to Walmart, but as the nation’s largest retailer, their impact is particularly pronounced.)

    A local retail economy is changed as a result of the entry of large format national chain retail stores like Walmart in at least five ways:

    (1) National retailers replace locally owned stores as the dominant retailers in local communities;
    (2) Locally owned and operated retail operations close;
    (3) Traditional commercial district locations are supplanted by individual stores or clusters of national retailers located outside of central business districts and other in-community locations, and the region’s commercial activity re-centers to these new locations;
    (4) Business services and other activities that support locally owned retailers decline in response to the closure of locally owned and operated retail businesses, leading to further business closure;
    (5) The economic multiplier impact of local consumer purchases is reduced as chain stores purchase services and goods from out-of-market vendors, and repatriate profits to distantly located corporate headquarters.

    Most economic studies finding limited economic impact of the entry of chain stores fail to study these kinds of impacts, and therefore tell an incomplete picture about the impact of national retailers on local economies.
    Although note that the point of the committee report is not to "say no" to Walmart, because the zoning allows it as "matter of right," but to make the project as good as it can be under the circumstances, and to be sure that the contribution of the site to the broader context of revitalization along Georgia Avenue, and to mitigate negative effects.

  • DC Businesses

    It would really be informative to know the following:

    1. How many of the businesses in the missouri/georgia avenue,nw corridor are owned by dc residents?
    2. How many dc residents are employed?
    3. The amount of taxes being paid to the dc treasury?

    This would at least let you know if the jobs/taxes would be less or more for dc.