Charge #3: Wal-Mart Does Not Benefit Consumers
Fact: Wal-Mart lowers prices
Fact: Wal-Mart raises real incomes
I would add that Wal-Mart particularly benefits lower income consumers. A 2005 MIT study on behalf of the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the poorest segment of the population benefits the most from the existence of discount retailers. Researchers Hausman and Leibtag concluded that the entry of a Wal-Mart Supercenter into a market saved 25% on food expenditure and since lower income households tended to shop more at Wal-Mart, a "decrease in consumer surplus arises from zoning regulations and pressure group tactics that restrict the entry and expansion of supercenters into particular geographic markets."
Jason Furman's paper “Wal-Mart: A Progressive Success Story” found that Wal-Mart's discounting on food alone boosts the welfare of American shoppers by at least $50 billion a year. The savings are possibly five times that much if you count all of Wal-Mart's products. As a force for poverty relief, Wal-Mart's $200 billion-plus assistance to consumers may rival many federal programs.
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