Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Double Standard for St. Target vs. Pariah Wal-Mart, the Retailer That People Love to Hate

1. Wal-Mart and Target both employ non-union workers. 

2. Until recently, Wal-Mart's health benefits for part-time workers were much more generous than Target;  Wal-Mart workers became eligible for health coverage after six months, while Target made workers wait a full two years (with the high turnover in the retail business for part-time workers, that probably allowed Target to avoid covering thousands of its employees).  Target just recently reduced the waiting period for part-timers to three months.

3. Compared to other retailers as a whole, Wal-Mart's health benefits are more generous - 80% of its workers are eligible for some kind of health coverage, compared to the industry average of only 58%.    

4. In 2009, Wal-Mart was the world's most generous company, giving more than $288 million in cash to hundreds of charities, more than twice as much as Target, which gave $133 million last year.  

Yet, according to this WSJ article (which provided some of the facts above) "the Bentonville, Ark., retailer continues to serve as the archenemy of labor unions and urban foes."  While Wal-Mart frequently gets vilified and demonized, its main rival Target usually seems to "get a free ride."  For example, the WSJ article points out that:

"In Chicago, Target amassed 10 stores, seven of which sell groceries in direct competition with unionized supermarkets, and it is planning several more. Wal-Mart only obtained permission to build its second and third stores there this summer, following a six-year fight.

The dynamic is similar in other big cities where Wal-Mart struggles to expand, such as Los Angeles, where it has just two stores, or New York, where it has none. Target by contrast opened in Harlem in July with a red carpet gala attended by Jerry Seinfeld and New York politicians—and little hand-wringing about the consequences for shopkeepers or union cashiers. 

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. remains a pariah to U.S. labor unions and urban activists who continue to hold the world's largest retailer to a different standard than rival Target Corp. as they block its plans to expand into the nation's biggest cities."

Q: Why the double standard? Unlike Wal-Mart, Target never gets criticized for being nonunion, paying low wages, or driving local merchants out of business, and there are no organized anti-Target efforts like Wakeup Wal-Mart


At 10/15/2010 3:28 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Marxist thinking is often limited to capitalist gains are labor's losses. Wall Street may be the next Wal-Mart.

The Walton family, founders of Wal-Mart (creating or inheriting wealth):

"Collectively, the Waltons control over 39% of the company, and are worth approximately $18 billion each, for a combined total of $89.5 billion (as of March 2010)."

At 10/15/2010 6:15 AM, Blogger Cloudesley Shovell said...

Aesthetics. Walmart knows this--they recently renovated a store near me, and it is now much much more "Target-like." Cleaner, wider aisles, less clutter.

I personally prefer Walmart because they're relentlessly competitive on price (cheap) and have a large inventory, so you're likely to find what your looking for. Aesthetics don't matter as much for me.

This guy has some thoughts on that:

His ten reasons why Target is better than Walmart:
1. Crime.
2. Target does not destroy small towns (by not building there in the first place).
3. Target prices are competitive, not necessarily as cheap.
4. "I’ve Never Seen Anyone Wearing a NASCAR Shirt, Purple Sweat Pants, and Pink Fluffy Slippers at Target."
5. Better employees at Target.
6. Happy customers at Target.
7. Cleanliness.
8. Better parking lots.
9. Positive atmosphere.
10. Wider aisles.

At 10/15/2010 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part of the double standard is that some people like to find someone else to blame their problems on instead of fixing the real problem. That's where the Wal-Mart, GM and union bashers, and people who complain about imports/illegal aliens come into play. We, as individuals focusing internally, can fix many of the problems we are blaming on others. It will take effort that some do not want to expend because they would rather sit on their ass watching television and complaining.

Wal-Mart is still not union friendly, but few businesses have improved employee conditions and public relations as they have in the last few years. They should receive the credit they are due for that effort, and a lot of what Wal-Mart is doing should be copied by businesses that want to be successful (I would suggest, though, that they refrain from the NLRA violations).

At 10/15/2010 8:01 AM, Blogger Rand said...

Perhaps the fact that Target Corporation is run by the Dayton family (Democrats) has something to do with it.

At 10/15/2010 8:21 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Couldn't this be the real reason?

At 10/15/2010 8:51 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

Several reasons:

1. WalMart is headquarted in a small conservative Arkansas town. Target's HQ is Minneapolis, a longtime liberal/socialist stronghold. It's much easier for liberals to love one of their own.

2. Sam Walton ignored the power of Washington for three decades, a serious offense not likely to be forgotten by the political elite.

3. Target has long marketed to Yuppies and other urbanites. Walmart only recently adapted its appeal to the class likely to contain the "annointed".

4. Unions have long known that focusing their efforts in the short term can lead to industry-wide success in the long term.

At 10/15/2010 9:28 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

target has played the game much more like intel - they engage, pay the right folks off, and go back to what they were doing.

walmart has picked an ideological fight (like microsoft) which, while valid and honest, has made them a lightning rod.

personally, i prefer the waltons's methods as they are the more above board.

At 10/15/2010 9:41 AM, Blogger T J Sawyer said...

"Evil Wal-Mart" is largely a creation of the newspaper media. The early Wal-Mart strategy of locating in small towns did force a large number of local retailers in nearby towns out of business. These retailers were the heavy advertisers that carried the local papers.

At 10/15/2010 10:07 AM, Blogger Mike said...

I worked at Target for 3 years during high school and I made $1.50 or so less an hour than friends of mine with the same job at Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart gave them a better employee discount than Target.

At 10/15/2010 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

T J Sawyer,

Wal-Mart gave the media informtion by being stupid enough to let their managers' training manual that outlined clear labor law violations become public. Wal-Mart did not learn the cover-your-ass rule of communication: Never put anything in writing you don't want your enemies to have.

At 10/15/2010 11:07 AM, Blogger Bill said...

The wealth of the Walton family has been widely publicized, much more so than that of the principal owners of Target. Perhaps resentment and envy account for hostility toward Walmart.

At 10/15/2010 2:10 PM, Blogger Rand said...


The primary motivations behind Socialism are resentment and envy.

At 10/15/2010 2:32 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

I have no idea what health benefits you're talking about for part-time Walmart employees. I worked there for over 5 years in high school and college and the one and only discount I ever received as a part-time employee (even if I worked 35-40 hours/week) is a 10% discount on non-food/tobacco items. I'm not saying I prefer one company or the other (they both have a place, in my opinion), but again I really have no clue what PT benefits you speak of.

At 10/15/2010 2:33 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"The primary motivations behind Socialism are resentment and envy"...

Oh so true but let's not forget socialism's track record of massive ineptitude and abysmal failure...

At 10/15/2010 2:34 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

And when I say the one and only discount, I mean one and only benefit.

At 10/15/2010 5:59 PM, Blogger Kelly D. Miller said...

Just want to say congrats to Dr. Perry for being selected for the Bastiat finals!

Good luck and hope you take first prize, if there is anything we can do to help, say the word. Your blog is definitely deserving of this.

At 10/16/2010 4:34 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Unfortunately, it's not simply "the unions" being the case. It's the sum of their actions after Sam Walton that caused the widespread hate. The same jets from Bentonville that bring hitman lawyers also bring in PR folks to find and purchase local government (or in the case of Chicago, the corruption of clergy via bribery) support, followed by a demonization of "the few in the way".

At 10/16/2010 6:15 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Well sethstorm a.k.a. 'info tech boy' you have something credible 'info' to back up your libelous like comments, right?

At 10/17/2010 5:52 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...


Every large corporation which depends on local government approvals must have lawyers and government affairs professionals on the payroll to advance the interests of the corporation. In every industry where elected and appointed government officials have interfered with the market, the corporations in those industries have been forced to play the game and attempt to influence regulations and legislation. The power lies with the elected officials who misuse and misappropriate tax revenues - and who use market interference as a means to gain political power. The evil parties in this mess are the elected officials who seek power - not the corporate leaders forced to play their game.


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