Wal-Mart: What a Bargain!

The real cost of shopping at the big box

| September / October 2004


Seventy million people shop at Wal-Mart each week. On one fall day in 2002, the Wal-Mart sales total exceeded the GNPs of 36 countries. Wal-Mart grossed $244.5 billion in sales for 2003.

A typical employee's hourly wage is $8, with a standard 32-hour workweek. The company's voluntary health coverage plan would suck up nearly three months of wages, at $2,844 a year; employees would still pay a deductible.

More than two-thirds of Wal-Mart's employees are women. Less than 10 percent hold management positions, average for a company in 1975. A class action sex-discrimination suit is pending.

Half of Wal-Mart's U.S. employees qualify for food stamps. Wal-Mart employees compose the largest single group in the state of Washington's low-income health program.



A 250,000-square-foot supercenter with a 16-acre parking lot will produce 413,000 gallons of storm runoff for every inch of rain. Each year, such a lot would dump 240 pounds of nitrogen, 32 pounds of phosphorus, and 5 pounds of zinc into local watersheds while creating heat islands.

Once Wal-Mart stifles its competition in a region, it consolidates its holdings by vacating many of its stores. To limit competitors in the future, the leases of these dark Wal-Marts prevent them from being used for retail. Other uses for these massive windowless structures are limited.



Pay Now Save $5!

Utne Summer 2016Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $40.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $45 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!




Facebook Instagram Twitter