Criticism of Walmart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., branded as Walmart /ˈwɒlmɑrt/, has been criticized by many groups and individuals, including labor unions and other groups. They have protested against Walmart, the company's policies and business practices, including charges of racial and gender discrimination. Other criticisms include foreign product sourcing, treatment of product suppliers, environmental practices, the use of public subsidies, and the company's security policies. Wal-Mart denies any wrongdoing and says that low prices are the result of efficiency.In 2005, labor unions created new organizations and websites to criticize the company, including Wake Up Wal-Mart (United Food and Commercial Workers) and Walmart Watch (Service Employees International Union). By the end of 2005, Walmart had launched Working Families for Wal-Mart to counter those groups. Efforts to counter criticism include a public relations campaign in 2005, which included several television commercials. The company retained the public relations firm Edelman to interact with the press and respond to negative media reports, and has started working with bloggers by sending them news, suggesting topics for postings, and inviting them to visit Walmart's corporate headquarters. In November 2005, a documentary film critical of Walmart (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price) was released on DVD.Economists at the Cato Institute say that Walmart is successful because it sells products that consumers want at low prices, satisfying customers' wants and needs. Walmart's critics say that Walmart's lower prices draw customers away from smaller Main Street businesses, hurting local small-town communities. Critics also say that Walmart is hurting the U.S. economy because of excessive reliance on Chinese products. Walmart is the largest importer in the U.S. in many categories such as electronics and fast-moving consumer goods. The 2006 book The Wal-Mart Effect by business journalist Charles Fishman contains much of the criticism, though it also enumerates Walmart's positive impacts within society.