Wal-Mart Gains Foothold In Lucrative Urban Market

Wal-Mart is succeeding in convincing Chicago politicians that it will create sustainable "employment and revenue for the city." The predominantly suburban-based supercenter chain is trying to move into denser urban areas.
June 28, 2010, 5am PDT | George Haugh
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Having exhausted the suburban and small town markets which were the base of such rapid success, Wal-Mart refocuses its expansion toward inner city areas, and Chicago is first in line. The South Side has long been the scene of economic deprivation. "We need jobs for our neighborhood, and Wal-Mart is willing to come, and they're willing to provide the jobs," said the Rev. Dr. D. Darrell Griffin, the pastor at Oakdale Covenant Church.

"Wal-Mart said it was planning several dozen stores in Chicago that would add 12,000 jobs over five years, and more than $500 million in sales taxes and property taxes for the city." On Thursday, the plans for the South Side store were unanimously approved by a city council committee and are expected to pass through the full City Council next week.

Analysts are divided on whether this will be a model for other urban areas. David Strasser, an analyst for Janney Montgomery Scott, said he expected the Chicago store would encourage a similar response in other cities. "On the corridor from Boston to D.C., Wal-Mart is so under-penetrated," he claimed. Dorian T. Warren, a Columbia University professor disagreed; "New York has so much more density of small businesses, the City Council is much more unified ideologically against Wal-Mart."

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Published on Thursday, June 24, 2010 in New York Times
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