The Economic Impact of a Walmart Store in the Skyway Neighborhood of South Seattle

April 2012
Puget Sound Sage

Puget Sound Sage Study: Walmart’s Projected Expansion in Area Neighborhoods Would Result in Net Job Loss and Reduced Wages

A report released today by Puget Sound Sage, a regional economic policy advocacy organization, concludes each new Walmart store opening in a Puget Sound neighborhood will result in a net loss of $13 million of net economic output and $14 million in lost wages over the 20 year life of the store.

The report, by economic impact expert Dr. Chris Fowler, is one of the first in the nation to use detailed economic analysis to determine the impact of a new Walmart ”neighborhood market” and stands in direct contrast to the academically weak reports commissioned by Walmart to promote its expansion in urban areas in recent years.

“We commissioned this report because we wanted to learn about the true economic impact a Walmart would have on a neighborhood when it moves in,” said David West, Executive Director of Puget Sound Sage. “What Dr. Fowler’s research shows is that a new Walmart, far from being a positive thing, is a net job killer and takes millions from the local community.”

West continues, “Of particular interest is how this negative impact is so linked to the Walmart business model. A new “generic” grocery store does not equal economic harm, but a new Walmart does.”

“Walmart may say they help people ‘Live Better,’ but this study shows that communities will be much worse off, with lower wages and less money in the community, after a Walmart opens.”

Walmart has announced plans to open at least four new stores recently in Central Puget Sound: East Bellevue, Factoria Square, Tacoma and Lynnwood. It is widely assumed that Walmart also seeks to open stores in the City of Seattle.

Puget Sound Sage is distributing this report to regional policy makers as a resource for local policy discussions about the impact of opening additional Walmart-type stores on the local economy and poverty in our region.

Over the course of 2012 Puget Sound Sage will be releasing a series of briefs and reports examining the impact of service sector industries on the Puget Sound regional economy.