Robert Knakal has some evidence that Wal-Mart would, uniquely, drive down costs for consumer products in NYC, but, interestingly, the mega-retailer gets some special treatment in political circles:
[W]e visited a Wal-Mart store just outside the city and compared prices to three different retailers here in town: a national drug store train, a local neighborhood pharmacy and a small neighborhood convenience store. In all cases, the prices of identical products at Wal-Mart were lower than the prices available at the New York City stores. The difference in price ranged from a low of 26 percent in savings on Benadryl, to as much as a 134 percent savings on Listerine. On average, Wal-Mart prices were 52.4 percent less than identical products available in the city.
Opponents of Wal-Mart say that the retailer should not be allowed entry due to the tremendous competitive advantage that it has over small businesses. What is difficult to understand is why Wal-Mart is singularly being vilified when there are other national retailers that offer economies of scale to New York City consumers, including Duane Reade, Walgreens, Costco, Target, CVS, T.J. Maxx and Staples.
THE LARGER PROBLEM with elected officials interceding in this way is that it is extraordinarily dangerous when they start dictating which businesses are free to join the competition and which businesses are not.
UPDATE: Stephanie Yazgi, Director of Walmart Free NYC emails, “Robert Knakel is publicly vying for Walmart’s real estate business in New York City. Now he’s moonlighting as a market analyst? Can he juggle too?”