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Apropos of the comment on the Mexico scandal, I've seen Wal-Mart work in an urban environment, as there is a very busy store in one of Mexico City's toniest neighborhoods -- Polanco. However, Wal-Mart is primarily aimed at servicing a car-oriented culture. It's not really meant to be a local supermarket or drugstore, or even a combination of the two. Wal-Mart wants people that buy BIG items, or lots of items. Most people don't go to Wal-Mart and leave with a bag or two that they can carry home or to and through the Metro. Even those who have their own cart aren't really in the target demographic. If you show up at Wal-Mart, you're expected to have an open trunk or back seat.

To expect the company to get too far from the suburban strip mall model is unrealistic. The Whole Foods in North Bethesda offers a slightly different model with underground parking...if you can find a space. That's something Wal-Mart can work with, but it's expensive, Wal-Mart doesn't have the mark-up that Whole Foods does -- indeed, Wal-Mart's raison d'etre is to offer low prices. So, they make their considerable profits on volume of sales. That means lots of readily available parking, and patient customers waiting a long time to checkout (at least, at many stores).

Can Wal-Mart work in an urban environment? The Mexico City stores suggest they can, but the store has to work very differently -- on a smaller scale, and with shoppers that make more frequent trips. That's a tough sell, for the company and for customers. There's a reason why Wal-Mart chooses car-friendly locations.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Apr 27, 2012 12:05 pm • linkreport

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