Welcome to the New York City Fact Checker
All of the talk about Walmart coming to New York City has understandably created a lot of conversation, especially among the special interests that are working to deny New Yorkers the ability to choose where they shop for groceries and other household goods.
In the interest of ensuring that our actual record informs the opinions of New Yorkers, we have set up this website as well as a Facebook page and a Twitter account to answer the public's questions about Walmart.
We know New Yorkers are used to asking tough questions and we welcome that. So ask away - the facts may surprise you.
All conjecture regarding our future plans in New York City aside, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras’ recent opinion piece is wrong on the facts when it comes to the value we place on women in our workforce.
- 57 percent of our Walmart U.S. workforce is comprised of women, compared to 49 percent of the retail industry;
- Nearly 200,000 female associates have worked for the company 10 or more years;
- About 53 percent of hourly associates promoted in our stores last year were women;
- A quarter of Walmart’s board of directors is women – well above the 16 percent who fill board seats at Fortune 500 companies.
Councilwoman Ferreras’ assertion that Walmart’s healthcare plan “does not provide contraceptive coverage” is inaccurate since law mandates such coverage. Walmart’s health plans already exceed the affordability and coverage requirements of President Obama’s new healthcare law.
We’re encouraged that the more people learn facts about us, the more educated their opinions become. That’s part of the reason why, according to a January 2011 poll, 76 percent of Councilwoman Ferreras’ constituents support bringing a Walmart to their neighborhood.
Senior Director Community Affairs
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.
Hugh O’Neill, president of Appleseed, a New York City-based economic development consulting firm, responded to the recent special interest-backed study on the “Walmartization” of New York City:
“The ALIGN report asks what impact Walmart would have in New York City if the company were to capture 21 percent of all retail food sales in the City. But it never stops to ask whether this is even a remotely plausible scenario. In a retail market as large, diverse and competitive as New York’s, it is in fact highly unlikely.
In reaction to the news that New Yorkers are shopping at Walmart more than ever and want stores in the city, the special interests today issued a fairy-tale press release billed as a “study” in the hope of scaring residents. (more…)
A recent Business Insider article touched on some of the “arguments” made by those who oppose Walmart’s entry into New York City. Those misguided points have been addressed previously in this space, but it’s always worth reiterating the facts.
On REITs – Walmart has utilized “Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) since 1996 that own and manage over 4,000 properties in almost all states. The company continues to hold its properties in these trusts as an effective and efficient means of managing the Company’s real estate portfolio, but the current structure is such that Walmart does not receive any special tax treatment under the REIT taxation laws. It receives no tax benefits from this structure and is neutral on state tax legislation concerning REITs.”
NYC Councilman Charles Barron’s remarks outside a recent community meeting between Walmart and East New York stakeholders were as inaccurate as they were inflammatory. We expect at least a modicum of civility and veracity from an elected official’s public statements.
Regardless, it’s worth pointing out for the record – once again – the facts about our wages and benefits.
- Walmart offers competitive pay across the state, with an average regular, full-time hourly wage of $12.50 per hour in New York. Nationally, more than two-thirds of our store management team started out as hourly associates and with the various career pathsavailable at Walmart, we work hard to give associates the tools they need to thrive.
- Walmart’s medical plans cover more than one million associates and dependents nationwide and start as low as just $11 per pay period for associates and $33 for associates and their families. And unlike many employers, we offer these comprehensive options to full- and part-time associates alike – in fact, most of the folks who work in our stores, are full-time.
- Other financial benefits include a dollar-for-dollar match on contributions to employee 401(k) funds up to 6 percent.
Once again, New Yorkers are making it resoundingly clear that they’re ready for a Walmart to open in one of the five boroughs.
This week’s poll, released by the independent Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, showed that 69 percent of New Yorkers would shop at Walmart if it were convenient and a solid 63 percent said City elected officials should be open to the addition of our retail stores.
These results reaffirm a similar survey taken in March, when 57 percent of New York City voters said “elected officials should allow Walmart to open stores in the city” and 68 percent said they would shop at Walmart if it were conveniently located.
It’s also clear that New Yorkers – like most Americans – are looking for affordable prices, especially in this time of economic uncertainty. According to the Quinnipiac survey, “72 [percent of residents] agree strongly or somewhat that Walmart’s lower prices benefit New Yorkers who would shop there.”
Over the past year, New Yorkers have shown continued support and a strong desire for a Walmart store in New York City. We look forward to answering their call soon.
This week, the Walmart Foundation pledged to support the Summer Youth Employment Program in New York City to help expand the City’s summer jobs program by up to 3,400 jobs.
The contribution is consistent with our past philanthropic work across the five boroughs and as Michelle Gilliard, Senior Director for the Walmart Foundation, said, “SYEP is obviously important to local kids and families here, especially during these tough times. We’ve talked a lot about jobs and this donation was an opportunity to deliver during a time of real need.”
The NYC grant is part of a nationwide $25 million giving campaign aimed at filling the gaps created when schools close for the summer months. Through this broader program, we are funding more than 350 local nonprofit organizations across the country to help expand nutrition, learning and employment services for elementary, middle and high school students this summer.
While most think the donation is just the right thing to do, we knew we could count on some of our favorite anti-Walmart front groups to complain. We can only guess that their pre-occupation with saying anything to get attention has prevented them from following the Walmart philanthropy story that’s been unfolding in New York City for years. Since they’ve raised the topic, it’s worth highlighting that since 2007, Walmart has contributed close to $13 million to non-profit organizations based in New York City.
Here are just a few of the groups we have supported over the years:
Food Bank for New York City: Supporting energy-efficient renovations, allowing the food bank to serve more meals to more people in need.
Harlem Academy: Supporting the creation of a program guide for fifth and sixth graders outlining curricular elements and benchmarks.
Hispanic Federation: Supporting the launch of a new energy efficiency project to assist low-income communities in the Bronx.
YM and YWHA of Washington Heights: In support of restoring and expanding nutritional meal services.
United Way of New York City: To help educate and provide free tax preparation services for consumers who receive the Earned Income Tax Credit.
We’re proud of the work our Foundation has done in New York City and look forward to continuing our efforts for years to come.
One of Walmart’s shareholders, the New York City pension fund, is requesting that the company require international suppliers to publish reports outlining factory working conditions. While we appreciate their good intentions, we respectfully point out Walmart’s continued efforts as a leader in global sustainability and social responsibility.
We already have robust supplier standards in place, requiring regular factory audits to ensure workers are treated with dignity and respect. Additionally, Walmart administers a Global Responsibility Report annually, to gauge our continued progress toward key environmental and social goals.
Walmart is dedicated to the fair treatment of its workers at home and abroad. We impose our own rigorous Ethical Standards Program, and require that all merchandise sourcing-factories comply with the Standards for Suppliers code of conduct. According to Covalence, the global retailer ethics watchdog, Walmart ranked third out of 35 businesses in a recent 2009 report. The criteria for these rankings were based on Walmart’s performance on critical issues such as human rights, labor standards, and environmental impact.
Forcing each vendor to comply could endanger the availability of certain products sold by our suppliers, thus inhibiting access for our customers. The fact is, Walmart administers thousands of audits of our supplier factories annually. If a supplier doesn’t comply with our rigorous standards, we take every appropriate action needed to fix the problem, up to and including the termination of the supplier’s contract.
Walmart applauds Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for their leadership in establishing a more affordable prescription drug solution for anyone who lives, works or visits New York City.
Walmart has long been in the forefront of efforts to reduce the costs of prescription drugs for consumers across the country. In 2006, we began our much-lauded $4 Prescription Program and now our customers can purchase a 30-day supply of hundreds of commonly prescribed drugs for only $4 or a 90-day supply for $10. The program even includes free home delivery from anywhere in the country.
As a company that has long championed lower prices – we’ve saved customers more than $3 billion through our $4 generics program alone – we’re committed to helping families stretch their paychecks to meet a budget. We look forward to finding new ways to provide further savings to our New York City customers.
For more information and a list of covered drugs at Walmart, click here.
There are about 120 Walmart stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas, yet – probably to the chagrin of those trying to keep Walmart out of New York City – commercial real estate and other local groceries are still booming. According to the Dallas Morning News, the area “is turning into a hot spot for specialty grocers.”
So why should New Yorkers care about what’s happening in Texas? The news is just one more indication that Walmart stores are magnets for growth and economic development that can easily co-exist with other grocers.
How many times do you think New York City special interests will reference the same, tired “Loyola University” talking points before they read a local Chicago paper, witness the positive change that has taken place in the community or listen to the elected official who presides over the Ward where the Walmart store in question is located?
Better yet, maybe some of those same critics should just visit the west side of Chicago and see the transformation for themselves.
The opinion piece also references another track from their “Greatest Hits” album of rhetoric: Walmart would kill three jobs for every two it brings in.
The fact is – as has been discussed previously – the study on which this rhetoric is based indicates that retail job growth will actually continue to grow with a Walmart store in the New York area. Additionally, the same study points out that a Walmart store would bring with it jobs in sectors unrelated to retail, likeconstruction, suppliers, professional services and non-profit organizations.
Special interests can continue writing opinion pieces based on hollow arguments; Walmart will continue to fight back with the facts.
A handful of special interests opposed to Walmart entering New York City are taking a recent report about firearms sales out of context to attract support for their waning efforts to keep the retailer out of the five boroughs.
Here’s something they forgot to mention: New York City Walmart stores will NOT sell guns of any kind. Furthermore, save for special orders in Alaska, Walmart does not sell handguns ANYWHERE in the US.
Dear New York City special interests: if it wasn’t already abundantly clear your message was falling on deaf ears, your recent choice of trombones over facts should serve as your final wake-up call that your efforts to keep Walmart out of the city are waning.
Walmart CEO Mike Duke, however, is keeping the focus on consumers and families who desperately want more affordable shopping opportunities in the five boroughs.
As Mr. Duke recently pointed out, consumers are feeling the burden of ever-rising prices at the gas pump and are looking more than ever for the best possible prices on food and everyday items. He noted that, given the difficult economy, consumers face “more pressure today than a year ago” in terms of belt-tightening, and Walmart is looking to “widen the gap of savings” for families who shop at Walmart.
*** UPDATE: U.C. Berkeley Study Comes Under New Scrutiny ***
May 16, 2011
A study relied on by special interests seeking to prevent Walmart from entering New York City has been further discredited after one of its authors admitted that he lacked expertise on its subject matter.
The 2007 study published by University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education came under fire after “Professor” Kenneth Jacobs, one of its authors, appeared at a hearing in South Africa on Walmart’s proposed merger with Massmart. During his appearance, Mr. Jacobs not only acknowledged he is not a professor but also a lack of training or expertise in economics. His admission – “I’m not an economist. My co-author on many of these papers is an economist…” – is relevant since he claims an expertise on the economic impact retail stores like Walmart have on wages. Working alongside an economist is not the same thing as earning a degree in economics.
Mr. Jacobs also admitted that some of his research conclusions were based on newspaper articles. For clarification on where the author founded aspects of his research, Walmart’s special counsel asked, “You read it in the newspapers?” Mr. Jacobs responded, “I did. I read it in the newspapers and I believe I looked into that case as well.” Mr. Jacobs testimony begins on page 461. (PDF)
Following the testimony, Massmart, South Africa’s largest retailer, issued a statement saying the cross-examination of the study’s author “identified various inaccuracies and overstatements that resulted in numerous concessions and retractions.”
Walmart has previously rebutted the distorted claims regarding employee wages in the University of California report.
April 25, 2011
A 2007 study published by University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education discusses living wage standards for Walmart workers and the effect it would have on shoppers. Unfortunately, it neglects to mention that Walmart already offers competitive wages, affordable benefits and opportunities for career advancement and promotion.
In New York City, our wages meet or exceed those offered by a majority of our competitors, including unionized grocery stores. As a matter of fact, our cashiers in North Jersey and Long Island are already starting at a rate at least $1.00 per hour higher than what is offered by unionized grocers for a similar position in New York City. (more…)
Lately, our critics’ favorite talking point seems to be that “for every two jobs Walmart creates, three would be lost.” This statistic is derived from a study that relies on data that is over a decade old. An actual reading of the study though shows retail jobs actually grew during the period studied:
“From 1961, the year before the first Wal-Mart store opened, through 2004… retail employment in the United States grew from 5.56 million to 15.06 million, or 271 percent, considerably faster growth than that of overall employment (242 percent).” (more…)
As of February 2011, Walmart’s presence in New York includes:
NYC Voters Want to Shop at Walmart 2-1, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters Back Merit for Cop, Firefighter, Teacher Layoffs
New York City voters say 57 – 36 percent that elected officials should allow Walmart to open stores in the city and say 68 – 29 percent that they would shop at a Walmart in the city if it were convenient, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Read the release here.
Good Jobs First, a Washington-based policy research center, has released a report full of false allegations and selective data attacking Walmart’s positive impact on local economies. The report claims Walmart costs state and local governments $400 million a year in lost revenue. In fact, Walmart paid approximately $6.4 billion in U.S. federal and state income taxes in 2010. Total New York State tax obligations for income, property and payroll taxes were $88.4 million for that year. In addition, the company collected $364.6 million in sales taxes for the State of New York for fiscal year 2010.
Additionally, the report alleges that Walmart received more than $1.2 billion in Economic Development Subsidies but acknowledge that this data is largely from 2004 and the funds went to the developers of shopping malls where Walmart was one of many tenants. More importantly, the report admits Walmart “is apparently not seeking discretionary subsidies in two of its highest profile initiatives: in New York City and Washington, DC.” (more…)