Walmart’s six-year-old sustainability campaign has helped improve its public image, enabling the company to grow bigger and faster. That growth, ironically, has dramatically increased the retailer’s environmental footprint, and hurt local economies and the U.S. job market along the way.
2005 — year Walmart launched its sustainability campaign
38 — percentage of Americans who had an unfavorable view of Walmart in 20051
20 — percentage of Americans who had an unfavorable view of Walmart in 20102
530 million — total square footage of Walmart’s U.S. stores in 20053
698 million — total square footage of Walmart’s U.S. stores in 20114
641 million — approximate area of the island of Manhattan in square feet
1,587 — number of Walmart stores outside of the U.S. in 20055
4,557 — number of Walmart stores outside of the U.S. in 20116
60,000 — approximate number of acres covered by Walmart’s U.S. stores and parking lots7
0 — number of times since 2007 that Walmart’s annual sustainability reports have referenced the company’s impact on land-use patterns and household driving
152 — number of abandoned Walmart stores in the U.S. listed as available for lease or sale on the company’s realty website8
210 — minimum number of new stores Walmart plans to open in the U.S. in 20129
1.5 million — approximate metric tons of CO2 saved each year by energy-efficiency improvements Walmart has made to U.S. stores built before 200610
3.5-3.9 million — approximate metric tons of CO2 emitted each year by Walmart stores built in the U.S. since 200611
<2 — percentage of Walmart’s U.S. electricity consumption that currently comes from its solar projects and specially purchased wind energy12
300 — approximate number of years it would take for Walmart to reach 100 percent renewable energy at its current pace
1988 — year Walmart opened its first supercenter selling a full line of groceries
25 — percentage of U.S. grocery sales now captured by Walmart13
29 — number of U.S. metro areas where Walmart captures more than half of all grocery spending14
196,000 — number of U.S. jobs lost from 2001 to 2006 as a result of Walmart’s imports from China15
1,940 — number of small retail firms (fewer than 20 employees) per 1 million population in the U.S. in 199216
1,455 — number of small retail firms per 1 million population in the U.S. in 200717
$312 billion — Walmart’s revenue in 200518
$419 billion — Walmart’s revenue in 201019
$8.81 — average hourly wage at Walmart’s U.S. stores20
$943 — average annual cost to taxpayers of providing Medicaid, food stamps, and cash assistance for each Walmart employee, based on data from Ohio21
Sources and footnotes:
1. Zogby International poll conducted in November 2005.
3. Walmart 2005 Annual Report [PDF] (figure includes Sam’s Club).
4. Walmart 2011 Annual Report (figure includes Sam’s Club).
5. Walmart 2005 Annual Report [PDF].
8. Site searched on Oct. 28, 2011.
9. Walmart press release, Oct. 12, 2011.
12. Author’s calculation based on data reported in Walmart’s annual sustainability reports. A small percentage of the electricity delivered by utilities around the country is also from wind and solar, so Walmart does get some additional renewable power that way, as we all do.
15. Robert E. Scott, “The Wal-Mart effect: Its Chinese imports have displaced nearly 200,000 U. S. jobs,” Economic Policy Institute, June 2007.
16. U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Census.
17. U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Census.
18. Walmart 2006 Annual Report [PDF].
20. “Is Wal-Mart Worse?” Gotham Gazette, Feb 14, 2011, citing wage data supplied by the independent market research firm IBISWorld.
21. Data provided by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and published in a report by Policy Matters Ohio, “Public Benefits Subsidize Major Ohio Employers: A 2008 Update,” July 31, 2008.