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2005-04-07
New York, NY. Wal-Mart Resorts To Publishing Its Own Surveys

You know its gotten pretty bad when a retailer has to commission its own survey to show that people want them around. After all, we're talking about a store, not a toxic waste dump. Yet that's what Wal-Mart did this week in Manhattan -- put out a press release claiming that 62% of the people surveyed, by them, said they "support the company's stores coming to the city," according to Crain's New York Business. The survey showed that one in four residents (24%) did not want Wal-Mart to come. Without any education on the subject, nearly one in four New Yorkers don't want a Wal-Mart. Imagine what those numbers would climb to if the same respondents were given a two minute background pitch on how Wal-Mart treats its workers, or its impact on local businesses? In releasing this poll, Wal-Mart had the opportunity again to repeat its mantra, that its critics are “a vocal minority led by special-interest groups.” Wal-Mart hired a Republican polling firm, Fabrizio McLaughlin & Associates, to do the survey. Crain's did not release the actual survey questions (which are often push/pull questions) and did not indicate where people who were surveyed lived in the city. Wal-Mart's survey says 56% of respondents travel outside the city to shop and that Wal-Mart is where they shop most when out of town. 69% of the New Yorkers surveyed said they believe Wal-Mart would create jobs if it opened stores in the city, while 13% said it would cost jobs. Needless to say, many New Yorkers have no idea what a Wal-Mart supercenter means economically to the city. Without any background information, such surveys largely tell us what the public "opinion" is stripped of any informational content. One would assume, for example, that a retail store means "new" jobs, unless one understood that in the retail industry, these large corporations have been playing a game of economic musical chairs, and that many smaller companies have gone under as power is consolidated at the top. New York Labor leader Brian McLaughlin, president of the city Central Labor Council/AFL-CIO, blasted the survey, saying that, "Most New Yorkers do not know that Wal-Mart encourages their employees to apply for government subsidies to provide health insurance for their families, pay wages that perpetuate poverty, lock illegal immigrants in their stores at night, discriminate heavily against women, and make their profits by outsourcing American jobs to the cheapest corners of the world. These are the serious questions New Yorkers must demand answers on from Wal-Mart, and those we intend to continue raising as our fight continues." Richard Lipsky, a lobbyist for small-business group Neighborhood Retail Alliance, said, “We question the methodology of any survey done at a company’s behest.”

What you can do: Never put much credence in studies commissioned and released by Wal-Mart. The company usually refuses to release the survey itself and its script, and does not indicate how respondents were selected. Even when Wal-Mart loses votes in a general election, as they did in Monroe,Wisconsin this week, they continue to call their opponents a "vocal minority." Even in Bennington, Vermont, this week 45% of the residents voted against expanding a Wal-Mart. Under normal market conditions, a retailer would have to explain to its board of directors why a merchant was polling such high negatives. Not Wal-Mart. They simply call those who don't like them a "special interest" and move on. This is why opposition to Wal-Mart continues to grow, despite their self-commissioned surveys.










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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