For many of us Walmart is the ‘go to’ store for clothing, grocery needs and a variety of household items. I was recently overseas, where they had no Walmart, and was amazed at how envious people were of our good fortune.
I realized Walmart is a household word, all over the world and I began to wonder just how large, and how profitable this giant merchant really is.
First of all there was no shock when I learned that Walmart is the largest retailer in the world. Did you also know that it is the largest company in the history of the world?
Walmart employs 2.2 million people world-wide, which is quite commendable, making this giant retailer the largest employer on the planet. Most of the employees that work for Walmart are paid the minimum wage, however, as many of the workforce is comprised of senior citizens, with other incomes, this matters little to the employee. Most of Walmart’s business is in the US, so I was quite surprised to learn the majority of employees do not speak English.
Size wise, Walmart is bigger than Home Depot, Kroger, Target, Sears, Costco and K-Mart combined (those not familiar with Kroger, they are an American grocery chain with about 2,500 stores throughout the U.S.) Amazon, who I expected to be near the top is actually ranked as the seventh largest, although they are growing at a rate of 20+% per year, as compared to Walmart, which is growing at 1%.
My next question was, how many stores does this giant retailer have? World-wide there are 11,700 stores in 28 countries. 4,637 of this total are located throughout the U.S. (this includes subsidiaries such as Sam's Club, etc.). In Canada we have 410 stores (91,000 employees), Brazil has 498, and Africa has 412 outlets. There are 341 stores in Japan and 631 In the UK. Mexico is a giant market for the firm with 2,411 outlets and yes, there are even Walmart’s in China; 439 of them.
I was a little astounded to learn about the Chinese locations, equating Walmart with capitalism and China with everything but. However, there is a strong connection between Walmart and China. Do you know that Walmart purchases goods from China? Of course, you do, but are you aware that 80% of all products sold in Walmart are manufactured in China. Another 4% comes from companies in the US or third world countries, owned by the Chinese.
Americans are big shoppers, and many of them favour Walmart. Every hour of every day Americans spend 36 million dollars at Walmart stores, and that results in a net profit for the firm of $34,985 every single minute. The annual profit (not sales) for Walmart is 36 Billion (with a 'B') dollars. I find that mind boggling, and deeply regret not having founded ‘van Bilsen-Mart’ 20 years ago.
15 Years ago Walmart decided that there was money in groceries, and went head to head with the large retailers: Safeway and Kroger. Today they sell more groceries than both those chains combined. They did this over a period of only 15 years, during a time when 31 grocery chains sought bankruptcy protection. Walmart outsells every other grocery chain in the world.
So how convenient is it to shop at Walmart? 90% of all Americans live within 20 Km of a Walmart. I do not have Canadian statistics but annually the purchasing experiences at Walmart, are greater than the population of the entire planet.
Probably the most astounding fact I discovered during my research was that Walmart, like many large companies (Nestle, Proctor & Gamble, Pitney Bowes, etc.) is a big proponent of ‘Dead Peasant Life Insurance Policies'. This is where a corporation takes out life insurance on its employees, with or without their knowledge. The corporation becomes the beneficiary and if an employee dies, all the insurance money goes to the company. This translates into mega bucks of revenue. For example, an employee making $18,000 per year will earn the company as much as $1 million in the event of death. The payouts are often given to executives as bonuses (a common practice, unknown by the average consumer).
As much as I despise corporate bureaucracy I sincerely hope Walmart continues to do well, as the alternative could be devastating, not only for us, but also for China, as well as the prosperity of the entire world. The next time you are outside at night, look up at the moon. If you squint slightly you will see the sign which reads ' Walmart coming soon'.