Are some Walmarts “better” than others?
We’re talking good customer service. Clean stores. Stocked shelves. Short check-out times.
According to a new study, yes.
Andy Reich, a Columbia University Assistant Professor of Sociology says his study has revealed not all Walmarts are created equal.
To simplify his findings, he says, White and rich neighborhoods have better Walmarts than Black and poor neighborhoods.
“People used words like ‘unorganized’, ‘nasty’ and ‘worst’ to describe stores in communities of color much more than they used those words to describe Walmarts in Whiter communities,” Reich said in a Skype interview.
He says he analyzed 35,000 Yelp reviews across 28-hundred Walmart stores in the U. S.
He then used those keywords and matched them with the reviewers’ race and neighborhood they live in.
The data was collected between 2004 and 2015.
So, does Reich’s finding resonate with Walmart shoppers in the Triad?
2 Wants to Know did a quick survey of local Walmart shoppers to see if their responses matched up to the study.
“I would say it doesn’t apply,” said one shopper names David.
Another shopper, Lakeitha said, “I can’t really tell.”
On the other hand, shopper Ira said, “In the white neighborhoods, they are better. Because I shop at all of them. I’m sorry. I’m just being honest.”
Janina added, “I definitely, agree. Only because I feel Walmarts in White neighborhoods are more stocked, the supply is more bountiful, it’s cleaner.”
Marie disagreed, saying, “I have not found that to be the case.”
“They are about the same,” Donna said.
On second thought, Marie revised her original resonse. “When I really think about it, now that I’m listening to myself, I agree,” she said.
Randy was confused. “Sounds a little uncanny to me to think that,” he said.
WFMY reached out to Walmart for a statement but hasn’t yet received a response.
However, the company did release a statement to Business Insider saying Reich’s study was “flawed and without merit.”
In response, Reich said, “Uh. Which part was flawed and without merit?”
Walmart went on to say in its statement, “We’ve invested $2.7 billion on associate education, training and wages. We’re also proud to provide to communities across the country, regardless of social or economic background, access to affordable goods and career opportunities to help them better provide for their families.”
Reich responded, while that’s positive, the study didn’t reveal that. “I think that if [Walmart] actually put its money where its mouth is, it would go a long way towards improving customer service in these neighborhoods,” Reich added.
The study’s author doesn’t think Walmart is intentionally making stores in White neighborhoods better than those in minority neighborhoods or has an racial motivations.
Reich says it come down to money and competition.
“Walmart is in the business of making money so when it goes into a wealthier, whiter neighborhood, where it does have to compete with more retailers, it’s forced to make more investments in staffing,” he explained.