The Post acquired (was given?) an analysis that says New York City residents spent $165 million last year shopping at Walmart‘s handful of stores bordering the five boroughs.
The tab argues that that money could be better spent here in the city, where it would provide tax revenue. And the stores could potentially provide other benefits, too. Maybe.
Yet it is just as possible that Walmart could undermine other city retailers who pay better wages, which gives people more money to spend at other stores, which also helps drive the economy. Less disposable income, less taxes, a greater housing burden, more welfare and so on.
Also, the Post only gives that one data point, that $165 million has purportedly been spent. But by whom? This could just be people on the border of Queens and the Bronx for whom this might simply be the closest store. Considering so few New Yorkers drive, picturing people taking mass transit from Manhattan, or even Brooklyn, seems like a stretch. and don’t forget many billions of dollars are spent on comparable retail in the city already, so these apparent losses could be meager and habitual.
The company looks to be ramping up for an aggressive campaign, as well, as it has hired Mayor Bloomberg’s former campaign strategist Bradley Tusk. (More on that here.) The strategy, as The Observer suspected, is one of divide and conquer, where the big-box retailer will use the high unemployment rate and current construction malaise to argue for the store’s economic benefits and to help divide the unions. Or, as the Post more generously puts it:
But Walmart backers — citing the shaky economy and high unemployment rate — said New Yorkers are craving job opportunities and affordable goods that Walmart provides in other labor-friendly cities, including Philadelphia, LA, Atlanta and Chicago.
Let the battle begin.
UPDATE: That $165 million? It’s only half of 1 percent of the city’s entire retail revenues per year.