Big Box stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Sam’s Club, and Home Depot, usually meet with a great deal of resistance when they plan to build in a community. Many people vehemently oppose Big Box stores entering their community. However, still others support Big Box stores despite the controversy.
Generally the argument for building Big Box stores is as follows: Big Box stores create jobs, generate sales tax, and can make available products that are hard to find. They also tend to offer lower prices than local merchants. Many argue that the building of a Big Box store can revitalize an area where few jobs are available and encourage the building of other commercial industries in areas where jobs are badly needed.
If a Big Box store opens in an area, many financial problems of that area are solved. People are offered work, and revenue from sales helps to fund projects for the welfare of the public. Roads might be improved, or more money might be available for the impoverished. An abandoned strip mall, which might be a central point for crime, can suddenly become a pretty area that people want to visit, all at the cost of the Big Box store.
Opponents of Big Box stores counter with the following arguments. Jobs created tend to be at minimum wage, meaning that they may not provide a living wage for people, especially those who badly need jobs and are impoverished. Some big box stores also specifically employ people at less than full time so they cannot qualify for health benefits.
Lower prices tend to mean that local businesses start losing money. Large retailers can afford to cut prices and sell some items below what other merchants would pay cost for. Many of their cost savings are the result of using manufacturers outside of the US, and higher demand for cheap products means reduction in numbers of American made products.
Newer businesses that might come into an area are frequently other Big Box stores or chain smaller stores, further undercutting local merchants. Thus the Big Box stores may provide jobs, but they do so at the cost of some people losing their jobs or businesses. New jobs that pay little, usually do little to help poor people.
Big Box stores may also cause money issues for the people of a community. Large storefronts may increase traffic on already congested roads. Merchants may want more police presence in their neighborhoods, which means more cost to the public. In the end, opponents, argue, Big Box stores cost more than they save.
This argument occurs repeatedly throughout the US and other countries as people fight over the issues involving Big Box stores. Some communities have allowed for the building of such stores when the stores agree to pay employees a set wage, or fund low cost housing for employees.
These clearly may satisfy those that argue for all being paid a living wage. However, it does not satisfy people who are concerned by the loss of local business or extra costs incurred by large stores. Both sides of the issue offer salient and defensible points, and it is likely the argument will continue as long as Big Box stores wish to enter new communities.