Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, August 03, 2006

"Does Pullman need a Wal-Mart?"

Another great letter to the editor from Don Pelton in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:

First, note that Wal-Mart apparently is the only major retailer to have expressed any desire to build here. It is not as though retailers are lined up waiting for a Pullman opportunity.

According to national information, Wal-Mart has about 100 million customers a week. We can relate this to a number equal to about one-third of the American population. My survey of shoppers at the Moscow Wal-Mart indicated about 2,500 customers shop there daily or about 17,500 a week. This is about one-third of the combined population of Pullman and Moscow.

From published data the average Wal-Mart shopper spends $60 a visit. This indicates annual sales of about $52 million or about 13 percent of total retail sales in this area based on a pool of about $40 million in Moscow-Pullman retail buying power. Estimates indicate about one-third of Moscow’s Wal-Mart sales originate from Pullman. With annual retail leakage of about $100 million from Pullman, a Wal-Mart super store, including a grocery department, probably could recapture about one-fourth of Pullman’s sales leakage. It is a start to rebuild retailing in Pullman.

Safeway, the two hospitals, the two universities, and many others see the need to develop separate local markets. Macy’s, Shopko, Costco and others depend upon a single areawide marketing plan. Now, Wal-Mart wishes to add a Pullman store and develop two separate local markets. Surely, this is a decision for owners to make and not for a group of outsiders to dictate or veto.

Don Pelton, Pullman
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