New York: Mighty Walmart, the world's largest retailer, has been thwarted once
again in its efforts to open a big-box store in the Big Apple in
the face of opposition from local unions much like protestors in
However, unlike India where opposition to letting in big retailers
like Walmart stems from a professed fear that they may kill small
"Mom and Pop" stores, it is largely the business model that the
company follows that has kept it away from the big cities.
The world's third largest corporation, according to Fortune Global
500, considered the biggest private employer in the world with
over two million employees working at 8,500 stores in 15
countries, under 55 different names earned a whopping $446.950
billion in 2012.
In the US alone it has more than 4,000 stores, but only a handful
in the big cities. There is none so far in New York or within the
city limits of Washington DC, but there are dozens of sprawling
Walmarts within 40 km in the surrounding suburbs in Maryland and
But of late Walmart has been looking for small locations, around
20,000 square feet, just a fraction of its typical 150,000 to
195,000 square feet stores in the suburbs, in urban areas
including New York City, San Francisco and Washington.
The first of the six Walmart stores in the national capital are
set to open by year-end much to the delight of Washingtonians who
don't mind driving out 30-40 km to "Save Money. Live better" as
the 50-year old chain known for its rock bottom prices advertises.
However, in New York, Walmart last week withdrew from a project,
known as Gateway II, being developed by Related Companies in
Brooklyn after local unions, some members of the City Council and
community groups raised an alarm at the idea of the retailer's
gaining a foothold in the city, according to the New York Times.
"Walmart's withdrawal from Gateway II shows that when New Yorkers
join arms, even the world's richest retailer is no match for
them," Stephanie Yazgi, a spokesperson for Walmart Free NYC, was
quoted as saying.
But Walmart, in a statement, made it clear that it was still
interested in opening a store in the city: "Two things remain
constant: most New Yorkers want us here, and we remain interested
in providing more convenient access to Walmart for local
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported from Hong Kong that
Walmart expects to open its first retail stores in India in the
next two years after New Delhi's decision to allow foreign
multi-brand retailers to expand their footprint.
"We will commit to retail in India," Scott Price, chief executive
of Walmart Asia, told the Journal in an interview. "But this idea
that the gates have been opened and there's going to be a flood
(of investment) is overwrought."
Price said he did not believe infrastructure in India "is an
obstacle to modern retail".
(Arun Kumar can
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)