A new report from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer that predicts that a Walmart in Harlem would hurt small businesses is nothing but a repackaging of a flawed Loyola University Chicago survey that tried unsuccessfully to make the same point.
In fact, one of the Chicago study’s authors “was forced to conclude that his study contained no evidence of a net job loss in the Chicago neighborhood after Wal-Mart moved in” and admitted the company actually created jobs in Chicago.
Given his effusive support for bringing large grocers like Costco and Target to Manhattan, one might question why the Borough President didn’t just study the impact of those stores? Mr. Stringer attended the Costco and Target store openings in Harlem where he gushed: “The development of this shopping center is an exciting achievement; it promotes economic revitalization and development” and “creates jobs and expands access to household essentials.”
Amazingly, Mr. Stringer says he can support Costco and Target because Walmart’s status as the world’s biggest retailer means its impact is unique. But Costco and Target both rank within the Fortune 50 largest companies in America.
The bottom line is this: there is a real need for fresh, affordable food in New York City. According to “Food Works: A Vision to Improve NYC’s Food System,” three million New Yorkers lack adequate access to groceries. Walmart has been a leader in bringing healthier and more affordable food options to all consumers, and recently was joined by First Lady Michelle Obama in announcing a new initiative aimed at improving Americans’ eating habits. What’s more, every independent poll shows overwhelming support for a Walmart store in one of the five boroughs and more than ever, Manhattan residents are leaving the city to shop at Walmart (they are on pace to spend more than $65 million this year – a 26% increase from 2010).
Walmart can be part of the solution for New Yorkers who want more affordable healthy food options, period.