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September 24, 2021

How long until Walmart takes over the world?

Walmart first entered the Canadian space in 1994. Since, of course, it has offered as much controversy as it has savings.

The mega-chain, which Maclean’s  notes has been depicted as a “corporate killer of mom-and-pop stores, the scourge of unions and a destroyer of urban landscapes,” has been both revered and reviled. Killer, scourge and destroyer, maybe, but Walmart is also a place for great deals, a purveyor of solar energy and a community leader.

But then, this is Canada, a first-world power that can, despite Walmart’s best alleged efforts, survive even when the superstore wipes clean everything in its path.

Can the same be said about other countries Walmart has in its crosshairs?

Fifteen years after it arrived in Canada, Walmart has expanded plenty but also recently began business in Chile.

*Bing: Is Walmart bad for communities?

The American retailer opened up shop in Chile in 2009, when it acquired leading food retailer D&S, expanded on its existing infrastructure and plastered “Walmart Chile” on everything it bought.

So far, the results have been stunning, if problematic. According to a recent estimate, in just three years Walmart has captured a whopping 34 per cent of Chile’s retail market share, a figure that gets a definite golf clap from industry analysts.

But Chileans might feel decidedly different. According to a report by UNI Global Union, Walmart’s dominance in Chile highlights a concerning trend that’s happened in the country since so-called modern retail arrived in the country in the early 1990s. Since then, small shops by the thousands have dropped like flies in the Chilean retail picture.

All this bears mentioning because of what’s about to happen.

Earlier this month, India announced its intent to allow outside businesses to set up shop within its borders, and chief among them will be Walmart.

“We are willing and able to invest in back-end infrastructure that will help reduce wastage of farm produce, improve the livelihood of farmers, lower prices of products and easy supply-side inflation,” Raj Jain, president of Walmart India, said after the news.

But there are many who feel Walmart’s presence in India, with its fragile developing economy, will merely echo that of Chile, which has seen its retail landscape ravaged in line with Walmart’s arrival.

Do you think Walmart is good, or bad, for the communities it serves?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...