Walmart’s “Buy American” Push a Publicity Stunt

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/15/us-walmart-us-idUSBRE90E0MB20130115

As reported in the above-linked article, Walmart announced a new “buy American” push in which it plans to boost its purchases of American-made products by $50 billion over the next ten years.  Sounds great.  It conjures up images of American factories adding shifts and hiring more workers.  That’s the American spirit, Walmart!  Man, this is a great American company!  Let’s all go shopping at Walmart today!

Not so fast.  This is just another example of a trend that has swept the government and corporate America – creating an illusion of supporting American manufacturing in cynical attempts at political or commercial gain.  In this case, Walmart is trying to break  its image of selling cheap Chinese junk at the expense of American workers.  In actuality, as the above-linked article points out, the majority of products sold at Walmart are already “made in America.”  That’s hard to believe until you remember that Walmart is a major grocery retailer – products that are heavily sourced locally. 

“Last year, 55 percent of Walmart U.S. sales came from groceries like food and drinks as well as other products that are typically sourced locally.”

Walmart coud easily meet this goal of boosting its sales of American-made goods by simply running sales on grocery items and cannibalizing sales from Krogers and Winn-Dixie.  The impact on American jobs?  Zip.

So don’t be fooled.  Here’s how you can tell when a company is sincerely interested in promoting made-in-America manufactured goods:  when they begin lobbying Congress to change our trade policy, abandon the World Trade Organization and begin slapping tariffs on imported goods.  Anything short of this is nothing more than an image-polishing gimmick.

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3 Responses to Walmart’s “Buy American” Push a Publicity Stunt

  1. John Connor says:

    Even if it is only a PR stunt, (and you just might be right about that :-)

    The power really is with the people. When each of us realize that buying Made in the USA products will save the job of someone in America, who will then have money to be our customer, then we will stop the imports. No need to bring it in, if it just collects dust on the shelves. Find Made in the USA products and buy them and send a clear message, John Connor UnitedAmericanConsumer dot com

    • Pete Murphy says:

      I agree with you wholeheartedly, John. I try to buy American whenever I possibly can, and am willing to spend more to get the American-made product. However, there’s a couple of reasons why simply emphasizing “buy American” with consumers isn’t enough:
      1. In all too many cases, there simply isn’t an American-made alternative.
      2. Far too many Americans really don’t care. In fact, some are actually “anti-American” in their purchase decisions, intentionally buying foreign products when there are American-made alternatives. Some are stuck in the past, when American-made products (like autos of the 70s and 80s) were, in fact inferior. Some have always gone for the snob appeal, etc.

      That’s why a change in trade policy that would make imports the more expensive choice is the only effective way to have a real impact on bringing American manufacturing jobs back home.

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