Better With Wal-Mart Than Without

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, Kenneth Stone did one of the first studies on the economic effects of Wal-Mart on rural towns. He has revisited that study and again found that the coming of a Wal-Mart increases a town’s overall retail sales.


Editor’s Note: In 1988, Iowa economist Kenneth Stone conducted the first study of the impact of Wal-Mart stores that were then springing up across rural America

Stone’s original conclusion was that, yes, Wal-Mart took business from local retailers. But, he found, if local retailers could differentiate themselves from the selection of goods found at the huge retailer, they could benefit from the increased shopping traffic brought to town. The retailers who competed directly with Wal-Mart were hurt. Overall, Wal-Mart helped stabilize or increase local retail sales. 

Ken Stone last year revisited his initial study, looking at the impact of Wal-Mart on small Iowa towns over a much longer period. Below are excerpts from the conclusion of his report. The full report can be found here.