10 Ways Wal-Mart Changed Our Lives

Charles Fishman's book 'The Wal-Mart Effect' inspires Time's list
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2012 3:02 PM CDT
10 Ways Wal-Mart Changed Our Lives
Shoppers run through the doors at a Wal-Mart store in Secaucus, N.J., shortly after 5:00 a.m., Friday, Nov. 28, 2008.   (AP Photo/Mike Derer)

Wal-Mart has transformed America's retail landscape with its shocking scope and unrivaled profits. On the plus side, the mega-retailer employs over 2.1 million workers—more than the population of 15 states and Columbia—and banked $443 billion in the last fiscal year. But it has also depressed wages and bankrupted companies. Time lists 10 ways the mega-retailer has "changed the world":

  • "Everyday Low Prices." Wal-Mart revolutionized retail sales with a new strategy: undercut rivals on staple items, but don't offer intermittent sales. The scheme proved irresistible to shoppers and inspired other big-box stores to follow suit.
  • Selection. Wal-Mart's "everything in one room" sales strategy was unimaginable only 50 years ago. Back then, "even the richest person in the world couldn’t step into a room and have access to the range of products that we have now," says Charles Fishman, author of The Wal-Mart Effect.
  • Labor Movement Decline. Wal-Mart's relentless pursuit of lower prices has promoted a culture that neglects and even mistreats its workforce. For example, "there are dozens of lawsuits alleging that store managers routinely forced hourly employees to punch out at the time clock, then return to work, putting in hours of unpaid labor," writes Fishman.
  • Overconsumption. Wal-Mart's rock-bottom prices have fostered a culture in which Americans buy things they don't need and throw out what needs repairing.
Click for the full list. (Read more Walmart stories.)

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