Jenna at Right Off the Shore and John McAdams at Marquette Warrior have commented on the New York Times' recent report on the release of internal Wal-Mart e-mails from a company forum in which managers get to ask questions of CEO H. Lee Scott.
As I have blogged before, I don't much like Wal-Mart and am probably in the bottom 1% of American consumers ranked by trips to a Wal-Mart. Basically, I haven't been.
But what I found interesting in the Times piece, in addition to the items discussed by John and Jenna, is the following comment by Scott on Wal-Mart's recent sluggish sales:
He said having to pay $50 to gas up a car did not change anything for rich customers, but did for those who didn't earn a lot. "It changes whether or not you go to the movie, whether or not you buy new sheets, whether or not you go out to eat."
As much as it must drive the left crazy, there is a great deal of truth in this. Wal-Mart has succeeded by providing adequate goods at phenomenally low prices to people who can't afford more. They have done it, in part, by paying employees in pretty much the same way that retailers have always done and - this is their innovation - by beating the bejesus out of their suppliers. I wonder if, at the end of the day, Wal Mart hasn't transferred income downward.