Wal-Mart at 50: A Not-So-Short History Of the World's Largest Retailer

by Eric Francis  on Monday, Jul. 2, 2012 12:00 am  


• The New York Times reports that some 10 percent of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores lock in their overnight employees for both crime- and loss-prevention reasons, raising questions of employee safety in the event of emergencies. By the time the article is published, the company has changed the policy to ensure a night manager with a key is always present at those stores.

• At the end of the year, Wal-Mart employs more than 1.5 million people worldwide, and anticipates creating 100,000 new jobs during the coming year.


• As of January, more than 1,500 Wal-Marts and Sam’s Clubs have opened outside the United States.

• A Wal-Mart investor who bought 100 shares of company stock for $1,650 when it first became available in 1970 and then just sat on them would have seen them grow by 2000 to 204,800 shares worth about $11.25 million. And 100 shares of stock purchased in 1980 for $3,350 and held 15 years would be worth about $340,000. Growth has since slowed: 100 shares bought in 1990 for about $4,500 and held 15 years would be worth about $20,000

• Wal-Mart closes a unionized store in Quebec because the union demanded a contract that required 30 new hires, representing a 15 percent payroll increase. It is the first time since coming to Canada 11 years previously that Wal-Mart, by then that nation’s largest retailer, has permanently closed a store there.

• Wal-Mart responds to victims of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast so quickly and efficiently that one economist later suggests that the company deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.


• With sales of more than $300 billion a year, Wal-Mart has revenue larger than that of Switzerland.

• Wal-Mart gives up on Germany, where ingrained competition proves too strong. The retreat costs Wal-Mart $863 million.

• Worldwide, so many people shop at Wal-Mart that this year, it’s estimated, 7.2 billion people will go to a Wal-Mart store. Earth’s population is only 6.5 billion.



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