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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Never too thin to shop at Wal-Mart

Are Wal-Mart shoppers low-income fatsos? You might be surprised:

. . . the two free-market economists have been intrigued by the Wal-Mart debate and wanted to test some of the more common criticisms of the store. Generally, they've found that the worst fears about Wal-Mart are unfounded, and that the stores have a mostly positive impact on their communities.

But they thought this one might be different. “We expected the study to show an increase in obesity in communities with a Wal-Mart,” Carden says. “We know that Wal-Mart lowers the cost of food, but we figured it's not always the best food for you.”

To their surprise, they found the opposite—there was a small but statistically significant reduction in obesity rates in communities with a Wal-Mart, perhaps because the store also sells fresh produce of good quality at a good price.

Broadening the study to big-box stores in general, the effect was even more pronounced. “People actually bought more produce, more fruits and vegetables,” Carden says. “Instead of just eating more, they ate a higher-quality diet—a lower-fat diet than the rest of the population.”

According to one study cited in the story, when Wal-Mart comes to town, other stores lower their prices to compete. The mere presence of a Wal-Mart results in the equivalent of a 6.5 percent increase in annual income. On food alone, the store brings a 25 percent benefit to consumers, which helps mostly, yes, the poor. Add in the fact that Wal-Mart carries such a quantity and variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and it becomes harder to accept the notion that the super store hurts communities.


Bob G
Wed, 05/20/2009 - 9:29am

Just wait until Wal-mart starts selling those wonderfully fuel-efficient FIATS at their stores...AND at ROLLBACK prices to boot.

That's scare the bejeezus out of local car dealers (what few remain viable, that is)
What's there NOT to like about that, hmm?

Mark Andrews
Wed, 09/09/2009 - 11:03am

Or how about all those Communist made Chinese cars!!