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.
“The report selectively cites several studies conducted elsewhere to support its claim that the opening of new Walmart stores in New York City will lead to a net loss in retail employment. But it ignores many other studies by independent researchers that have reached the opposite conclusion, finding that the employment impact of Walmart’s entry into new markets has ranged from neutral to mildly positive. Similarly, the report’s claim that the opening of new Walmart stores will lead to a sharp decline in average retail wages makes no sense in the context of a labor market as large and diverse as New York City’s, with about 300,000 people employed in retail.
“The report’s claim that the opening of a new Walmart store in East New York would result in widespread closure of local small businesses is based on a single, severely flawed study of the impact of one Walmart store in Chicago. Moreover, the report simply ignores an extensive body of research showing that Walmart’s entry into new markets translates into lower prices for consumers. In addition to benefiting consumers directly, lower prices can have other positive effects, as a portion of the money households save is channeled into increased spending in other sectors of the local economy.
“If and when the company enters the New York City market, New Yorkers will have a chance to vote with their job applications and shopping dollars on whether they think Walmart is good or bad for New York. Walmart’s critics should be willing to let them decide for themselves.”