Is Wal-Mart Criticism Waning?

We remember, not long ago, when Wal-Mart collected more negative headlines than Kobe Bryant hit fade-away jump shots.

Towns didn’t want the retailer to open a store in its borders. The company treated its employees like dirt. It was destroying the environment. Mom and pop stores were being laid to waste by Wal-Mart’s expansion. There were countless critics and a well-publicized documentary was released.

Sure, the largest retailer in the world still has its detractors, especially some blogs in particular. But we have certainly noticed a decrease in this negativity.

A recent New York Times article sheds some light on this development. Apparently two anti-Wal-Mart groups, Wal-Mart Watch and are scaling back their operations and making more of an effort to work with the retail giant in changing its practices instead of going to battle.

It seems like Wal-Mart has done a lot on the public relations end. And in regards to the environment, many green-minded professionals we’ve spoken with surprisingly point to the chain as being a trailblazer in sustainability.

Have you noticed a drop in the criticism of Wal-Mart? And if so, what do you think is driving it? Or is this only a temporary lull that will be followed by more intense criticism of the company, for whatever reason?


11 Responses to “Is Wal-Mart Criticism Waning?”

  1. 1 Brad June 5, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Why make a simple topic complicated?
    Through experience, Wal Mart has become better at P.R.

  2. 2 Steven June 5, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Well said, Brad!
    Seems that another corporate giant keeps on rolling…
    Ian, did Wal-Mart pay you to write this blog?

  3. 3 iritter June 5, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    They gave me a suitcase of money.
    I can totally see why you would think that because of how great I was saying they are.
    The fact that I posted links to four of their detractors and spent a paragraph explaining past grievances that groups have had with them really sealed the deal when we made our secret corporate-media agreement.

  4. 4 Alan June 5, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Sustainability, green practices to the layman, has been a buzzword around Northwest Arkansas for five years. Wal-Mart grasped the trend to provide less waste and more eco-friendly practices well before it was a trend.

    As one of the largest developers, building owners, trucking fleet owners, and retailers, Wal-Mart has a huge impact on our world’s future. And, by mandating that all their vendors (most of whom rely on Wal-Mart to be 30% or more of their annual sales) reduce their impact on our environment, Wal-Mart has changed the way these major companies do business.

    It’s not PR that is making Wal-Mart better, it’s Wal-Mart making Wal-Mart better.

  5. 5 TeenyTiny June 5, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Wal-mart is the least of our worries when they’ve announced a huge cutback in their store development plan. Between the death of the consumer, the credit crisis, near collapse of the financial system, oil at $134 per barrel, Globalization, the New World Order, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and the ’08 presidential election, there are enough issues to cover. Lest anyone assume that Wal-mart’s ads and PR routine has won our MadMen hearts, remember that we know that Wal-Mart is still the evil Empire, decimating the heart and soul of small town America. And… perhaps, for some, maybe they’ve guiltily been actually shopping at Wal-mart for some cheap chinese goods since they can no longer afford to shop anywhere else.

  6. 6 Nancy H June 9, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    I agree with TeenyTiny – Walmarts prices can’t be beat, and a lot of shoppers these days have to save every penny they can. But from what I hear – Walmart is fixing it so their prices won’t ever be beat. One of my “sources” told me that once they capture that 30% of a Vendor’s total business, they ask that vendor to cut their prices to Walmart below any other client’s, or they will yank the contract. Subsequently, other stores pay higher prices to make up for what a manufacturer might be giving away to Walmart/Sam’s Club. They’re not just pushing mom & pop out of business, they’re basically causing an escalation of prices to all other buyers through thier buying scams, and higher prices to the consumer in all other stores nationwide who can’t compete with their ability to provide vendors with such high-volume contracts. They are evil. To the core. Shopping there makes me feel slimey. Walmart’s “trend” to be more eco-friendly is just another brain-washing technique to make us think they actually have a heart beating somewhere up the corporate ladder. They don’t.

  7. 7 Nancy H June 11, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Found an article in the International Herald Trib (NYTimes) that indicated Walmart has moved into yet another arena to wipe out yet another industry business:

    “On Tuesday, Wal-Mart started selling on an exclusive basis a three-disc collection by the popular 1980s band Journey called “Revelation.” And it is doing so without a middleman: The album was bought directly from the band without the help of a record label. Instead, Journey went right to Wal-Mart and kept most of the money a record company would normally take as profit for the group. Last year, Wal-Mart made a similar deal with the Eagles, who like Journey are represented by Front Line Management, the largest U.S. music management company.”

    I loved this part:

    “The idea of treating the label as a middleman that can be cut out fits Wal-Mart’s approach to cost-cutting. In the past, the chain has pressured record labels to lower their wholesale prices, arguing that customers would buy more CDs if they were less expensive.”

    A middleman that can be “cut out.”

    Pressuring record labels to “lower their wholesale prices.”

    I think the article was trying to make the record label companies out to be these big bad bullies that charged outrageous prices to produce music and market new groups…but it kind of backfired. Seems like Walmart is the big bad bully, using their marketing power to push another industry down the toilet.

    Isn’t there a law against someone trying to monopolize…the universe? Hmmmmm…..

  8. 8 syinly June 16, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    As a former Wal-mart employee. I now believe most of the negative statements are true. Wal-mart has worked hard to get a better rep but they are still doing the same rude things they were doing before. They are not stocking enough of the items people want. They are hiring more part time employees seniors and young people so they do not have to pay as much in benefits. There policies to not honor loyalty to the company or long term employee. Despite all this and customers are aware of wal-marts practices they still shop because the prices. You can see lead toys did not keep shoppers away. Snacks that made people sick. Baby clothes with toxic chemicals on them. Baby food that was killing babies. All that happen last year and wal-mart stock is charging on like a Bull ( UP)

  9. 9 jonny March 5, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    walmart sucks and i hate it their fish always die their plants always die and their return lines are always long for a reason, their products suck!

  10. 10 jake March 5, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    although i have only been to walmart once they are the worst store i have ever been to and i hate it, i wish they would shut down because anything they sell thats living dies and anything they have glass breaks they have poor customer service and i do not much care for the color paint they have inside it burns my eyes/

  11. 11 James March 8, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Walmart has become a monopoly that is treading on America.
    It flys under the radar screen of the Anti-Trust department because it is not a Monopoly in the usual sense.
    Walmart is shipping boatloads of US dollars overseas in exchange for cheap goods. How does that hurt America?
    When Walmart buys products overseas for low prices they reduce the value of American production. China sells Walmart a product for $30 that cost them $10 to make. Walmart sells that product to Americans for $60 and we all think that’s a grest deal. If produced here in American, Walmart would have paid $40 for the same product because of the cost of labor and equipment. They would then sell it to Americans for $80 dollars. When Walmart buys from China, Walmart has traded $40 worth of US labor and production capacity for $10 worth of Chinese Labor and Production.
    If the same product was produced here the dollars paid to Labor, about half of the cost, $20, would circulate in the economy about fourteen times over, and for every good paying manufacturing job created we spin off about 2.5 service sector jobs. Walmart is shipping jobs, production asset value, economic activity, and our life style to China in excajnge for cheap junk that most of us don’t need. And I for one think we are making a very bad deal in the process.

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