The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, June 16, 2003

... we just live in it. That's the conclusion that Slate's Daniel Gross comes to, as he argues that the retailing behemoth's weekly sales reports serve as a national economic indicator. Sound far-fetched? Consider this snippet from this Fortune article:

Wal-Mart is not just Disney's biggest customer but also Procter & Gamble's and Kraft's and Revlon's and Gillette's and Campbell Soup's and RJR's and on down the list of America's famous branded manufacturers. It means, further, that the nation's biggest seller of DVDs is also its biggest seller of groceries, toys, guns, diamonds, CDs, apparel, dog food, detergent, jewelry, sporting goods, videogames, socks, bedding, and toothpaste—not to mention its biggest film developer, optician, private truck-fleet operator, energy consumer, and real estate developer.

As if there aren't enough reasons to hate Wal-Mart, huh? Actually, "hate" is rather strong. With size comes strong opinions, not to mention huge socio-economic impact. And Gross does a good job of pointing out that even with all its reach, Wal-Mart's influence has limits. Still, it's a fascinating notion that a retailer that originated in Arkansas (and is still HQed there) is a modern-day General Motors.