Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The War on Wal-Mart Is Over

Spekaing of it being time for PARD to move on, a story in today's New York Times by my old buddy Michael Barbaro indicates that Wal-Mart is winning its battle against the union thugs of the UFCW and the SEIU.

According to Barbaro, union-sponsored attack dog groups Wake-up Walmart and Wal-Mart Watch have dramatically cut back staff and scaled back in-your-face attacks on the retailer.
But Mr. Nassar [of Wal-Mart Watch] and Ms. Scott [of Wake-Up Wal-Mart] acknowledge that the appetite for criticism of Wal-Mart, which seemed insatiable at first, has waned, especially in the news media. “There has been a certain amount of fatigue about writing the Wal-Mart-is-bad story,” said Mr. Nassar. Ms. Scott described “a cooling down of the Wal-Mart story.”

Both said their groups are pursuing different, perhaps less high-profile, strategies than they did in 2005 and 2006. Wal-Mart Watch, for example, wants to be viewed as the best source of outside research on Wal-Mart; WakeUpWalMart.com is reaching out more to regional news outlets, rather than big national newspapers.

Both said they would remain critical when it made sense. “As the company makes changes, it becomes harder to be critical,” Mr. Nassar said, “because our critique has to become more nuanced.”
Of course Americans have tired of Wal-Mart bashing, just as they have in Pullman. It's illogical and elitist, even to the leftist media. The bottom line is that consumers like to buy stuff at low prices, regardless of politics. Wal-Mart reported today a same-store sales increase of 3.9% for May, much higher than analysts had predicted.

Michael and I have both been very critical of efforts by Wal-Mart to pander to the left-wing on issues like minimum wage and global warming. But perhaps Wal-Mart has been very clever in co-opting its critics. As Barbaro states:
The mellowing of the anti-Wal-Mart movement is an unexpected development for the retailer, whose public image and share price were bruised by the well-financed union campaigns. On Friday, when the chain holds its shareholder meeting in Arkansas, investors are likely to applaud Wal-Mart for fending off these detractors.

“It definitely has helped the company,” a retail analyst at Deutsche Bank, Bill Dreher, said. “Those attacks hurt Wal-Mart.”
And in business, it's all about the bottom line, not ideology.

Time has come indeed for PARD to quit....

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