Monday, January 17, 2011

Walmart, Yes Walmart, Objects to "Push Poll"

In yesterday's NY Daily News , Albor Ruiz commented on a poll that showed that small business in NYC was not-as Walmart's own commissioned poll purported to show-a big booster of Big Wally: "Walmart in the city: Yes or no? A new poll asking precisely that question to 300 small retail shop owners throughout the city found that most answered a resounding "no." The poll found that the small business community - including 73% of groceries and convenience stores - overwhelmingly rejects the idea of the largest retail business in the world setting shop in New York City."

The poll was conducted by Gotham Government Relations. Now, is Gotham a totally disinterested party? The answer is no-and the Walmonster was quick to pounce-and we're inclined to take these comments as tongue in cheek: "Steve Restivo, a Walmart spokesman, doubts the validity of the new Gotham survey. "Who else have they done polls for? I thought they were lobbyists not pollsters," said Restivo, who thinks Catsimatidis was really behind the poll. "From our perspective, it is telling that Gristedes couldn't get the results they wanted from a scientific poll - like ours was - and instead had to ask their lobbyist to do an informal one with preselected retail shops."

Ah, science! Walmart hires the mayor's own pollster-the fella that saw him cruising to a 18 point victory in the last election-and wants us to believe that this is science. Sure, and so is alchemy-the fact remains that any poll that could report that small businesses support the Walmart entry into NYC, and by wide margins, is subject to an investigation by the Consumer Fraud Bureau.

Ruiz goes on to cite an op-ed that was written by Gristedes owner John Catsimatidis: "An op-ed piece by Gristedes owner John Catsimatidis published in last Wednesday's Daily News makes some relevant points. Local, independent stores, he says, invest 85% of the money they earn in the city while national chains invest only about 15% of their revenues locally. Also, many of these store owners are immigrants pursuing the American Dream, Catsimatidis wrote. Unavoidably, Walmart would have a tremendous anti-immigrant impact by putting many of them out of business. "Wherever the retail giant has located, smaller competitors - the ones that have always helped shape the character of our cities - struggle to stay in business," he said."

So, we'll put the Restivo's throwing stones objection into the glass house category-but what to make of the Daily News' editorial in favor of the Walmonster yesterday? The paper went after the Walmonster opponents by telling its readers about the Walmart investment by the city's pension fund: "Meanwhile, the city's retirement funds hold 6,808,859 shares of the retailer's stock that were worth a whopping $373,199,042 at the close of trading Friday. The investment means that, as future retirees, de Blasio and Quinn, as well as her Council colleagues, have a stake in Walmart's profitability. And they have been doing well lately. Shares in the company whose practices they revile have risen 14.7% over the past six months."

This is truly laughable-and we're not sure that this line of argument has even been well thought out. We all know that Walmart, the world's richest retailer, is a profit making machine-and any investment in the Walmonster would be profitable. Yet, unaddressed by the News, is the fact that these Walmart profits are garnered as a result of all the small businesses that it sends to the dustbin.

We would be remiss if we didn't point out the News, owned by Morticia the real estate developer, has never once opined against any large real estate development sponsored by the Bloombergistas. Nor has the paper commented on the fact that, under the current city ruler-Michael the Clueless-small retailers are simply dropping like flies because of  King Michael's high tax fiscal folly.

The reality is that Walmart-and if it comes, it will come in multiples-will do grievous harm to the city's small businesses and neighborhoods. We're sure that those businesses that will be shuttered, and those neighborhoods that will be inundated by thousands of additional daily car and truck trips, will be happy to know that their pain and suffering will be rewarded by higher stock dividends in the NYC pension system.

Maybe Walmart can do another scientific poll on this issue.