Wednesday, November 29, 2006
[The Wal-Mart Wars, continued …]
They once said that what happens in California eventually slides down to the rest of the country. If this is still true, we may see other localities following the vote of the San Diego (population: 1.2 million) City Council yesterday to ban any big box store that also sells groceries -- in other words, no Wal-Mart Supercenters.
I won't write yet another defense of the free market and yet another rant against the demonization of the nation's largest employer. But I will comment on a statement by a San Diego councilman who said he supported the ban because he wants a "walkable" community. It is no exaggeration to say that many Americans do much of their walking by visiting the shopping mall, at which they park and walk among stores (witness the popular phenomenon of "mall walking"). Wal-Mart now builds "Supercenters" of more than 200,000 square feet, including the grocery section. Since box-box retailers have yet to allow auto driving inside the store (although this may be in our future), I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the sheer size of the giant stores forces some shoppers to walk more than they would if they drove to two or three smaller stores to get their shopping done!