It’s a point I’ve made often enough:

One of the regular complaints about the effect of Walmart on small town America has been that it kills jobs when its stores turn up. Mom-and-pop retailers close down, and Walmart itself requires fewer workers than the smaller joints it replaces. This is entirely true, and it’s also entirely fine, even desirable and admirable. The aim, point, and process of economic advance is to kill jobs— to get the task done with the use of less human labor.

India is just starting to see protests against that first stage of the same process, which is unfolding as Walmart swallows Flipkart, a locally grown cross between Amazon and e-Bay. The people protesting are the millions of independent traders who currently make up India’s retail landscape. They’re entirely justified in protesting as a larger and more efficient online behemoth will indeed put many of them out of business and kill off their jobs and employment.

5 thoughts on “Elsewhere”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    The purpose of the economy is not consumption but employment?

    That puts a kiss of death on the reparations argument then. After all, the planters lazing about all day were the victims. The Africans working under the sun and the lash were better off because they had jobs.

    The real problem is even if Walmart is kept out, how are those Mom’n’Pop stores going to survive? The fact that Walmart can buy an Indian start-up means that other Indians can force the pace of disintermediation. If not the Waltons then someone else will do it.

    Unless, as seems possible with the modern Left and in particular the Indian Left, their policy is to prevent any modernisation at all.

  2. The supermarket doesn’t put all the mom & pop places out of business. Some improve their service, supply and hours.
    We have supermarkets in Britain. We also still have grocers, butchers, bakery shops,
    We don’t have as many as we had before the big supermarkets but can we say those remaining have poorer service and poorer wares than when they didn’t have big competition?

    I run a small retail business, don’t see that disappearing any time soon – I do see it expanding. Opportunities exist and I can take advantage of them or ignore them.
    Unlike my parents who did have a grocers shop I can adapt easier to demand even if I can’t be as profitable as them on particular items.

  3. Flip it around – say you’re pretty middle-class, and your earning power allows you to consume enough to support two working-class salaries.

    Do you want to pay for half a nurse, part of a teacher, most of a shelf-stacker, and half a beat copper?

    Or do you want to pay a tenth each of a nurse, teacher, shelf-stacker, copper, plumber, builder, solicitor, etc, etc, while getting comprehensive services from each?

    If the latter, congratulations, you recognise that jobs are a cost, and mechanisation makes the general population richer.

    Now, is that greater wealth worth the personal pain of those mom’n’pop stores going out of business?

  4. Small mall near me has a supermarket, there is also an independent butcher, bakery and grocer, all of which seem busy enough whenever I’m there, no reason Walmart has to be the death knell for businesses

  5. BniC – top of the market area in town centre is an Asda, building used to be Sainsburys.

    The market had, in the decades I’ve been using it, several fruit and veg stalls. Near the market is a grocers shop.

    There is a butchers wagon on the market twice a week. Round the corner is a butchers.

    Shopping mall with a dozen shops or so by the market, a grocer and butcher in there too. And a pie shop does some bread (they don’t bake on site). Its about 40 metres from entrance to Asda.

    Businesses do still thrive despite competition.
    Heck, look at the biggest competitor around, amazon. Anyone know of bookshops? Electronics retailers? Off licences?

    Wife’s uncle had an off licence for several years about 200m away from the local Sainsburys. It did well enough before he sold it and moved on.

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