Rural Initiative


Date of this Version

August 2005


Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science.


Wal-Mart is the largest corporation in the world operating 3600 stores in the US and 1150 stores in other countries. With its highly automated distribution system, Wal-Mart has dominated the retail industry in the US becoming the largest employer and realizing higher sales than any other retail corporation in recent years. There are claims that the store has created benefits for consumers in the form of low prices, a wide assortment of products under one roof and employment opportunities and that communities have also benefited from Wal-Mart in the form of its involvement in charity and infrastructure.

Despite its market success, Wal-Mart has generated ample controversy regarding its socioeconomic impact on the communities in which it has been established as well as neighboring communities. Complaints are emanating from consumers, suppliers, community leaders and labor unions. In some communities incumbent retailers have joined forces in the fight against Wal-Mart since its opening in a community has been associated with the collapse of downtown business and mom and pop shops which had for many years identified themselves with communities.

Some consumers despite benefiting from low Wal-Mart prices have formed coalitions against shopping in the store. The always low prices have been viewed as coming at a hidden cost. Anti-Wal-Mart websites have been set up which Wal-Mart has counteracted by coming up with a website of its own aimed at improving its image in the retail world.