Despite its claims to the contrary, Walmart has been trying to infiltrate New York City for some time now. The mega-chain even has a Walmart New York City website and has donated large sums to city programs. Their spin has always been that New Yorkers really want a Walmart, and maybe they’re not so off the mark: people from New York City are set to spend $215 million at Walmarts outside the city this year, a 10 percent increase from last year. (Sorry, that Crain’s link is behind a subscriber paywall.)
According to Crain’s, company figures show that Manhattan residents had the biggest spike in sales of all; they spent $65.1 million at Walmarts this year. The data was compiled via credit cart info and other data from stores in areas close to NYC, and is from the period from January to May (
though we’re wondering how you could account for people who don’t pay with credit cards. Asking for zip codes? see below!).
That $215 million figure represents a loss of $7.7 million in tax revenue for NYC, according to an economic consultant Crain’s spoke with.
A poll back in July found that 60 percent of NYC respondents were in favor of a Walmart in our city.
Presumably, this new financial report will give Walmart plenty of ammunition for their theory that New Yorkers are begging for a cheap, ethically shady superstore. Thing is, unions and politicians don’t want the store here; Councilman Charles Barron of East New York (where Walmart is said to want a store and also one of the neighborhoods that city government wants classified as a “food desert”) summed it up to NPR in February. “Don’t even think about coming into east New York,” he said. “We’re desperate for jobs, but we’re not going to take anything. We want jobs with dignity, jobs with integrity, jobs with self-respect.”
Walmart hasn’t yet responded to our request for comment.
Update 4:20 p.m.: We just heard back from Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo, who clarified how the numbers were obtained: “It’s based mostly on electronic transactions so it’s a conservative number to say the least,” he said. He added that New York is the top-performing market for online sales.
When we asked whether the numbers meant Walmart would push harder for a store in NYC, Restivo said “I’d tell you it’s no secret we’re evaluating opportunities across all five boroughs.”
Go to Runnin’ Scared for more Voice news coverage.