The Economic Impacts of Walmart Supercenters

Richard Volpe, Michael A. Boland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Our purpose is to review the economic impacts of Walmart's disruption of the food retailing industry. This review synthesizes the extant knowledge and research findings related to the economic impacts of Walmart's entry into, and subsequent domination of, food retailing in the United States and more broadly globally. The findings suggest five broad generalizations: (a) Walmart's physical growth in the United States has slowed considerably, but the company is growing rapidly in terms of total assets, digital capabilities, international presence, and sales per square foot; (b) Walmart's entry and presence are associated with lower food prices for households; (c) Walmart has considerable negative impacts on large competitors, particularly supermarkets, but the evidence for Walmart's deleterious impacts on small businesses is limited; (d) there is no consensus on the impact of Walmart on local employment, but most studies on the topic point to a modest increase in retail employment; and (e) Walmart likely increases food access but does not improve dietary quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-62
Number of pages20
JournalAnnual Review of Resource Economics
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

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  • food
  • food access
  • food prices
  • grocery
  • retailing
  • Walmart


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