Monday, July 13, 2009

Wal-Mart hits India

India's first Wal-Mart is drawing a lot of praise from consumers:
The wide, clean aisles of India's first Wal-Mart are nothing like Kavita Gopal's usual shopping haunts. There are no bicycle rickshaws careering past her as she buys sacks of rice, no humor-filled haggling over the price of an egg and no demanding neighbors yelling down from their windows for shopping favors.

"It's so relaxing and bright in here. It's like a really enjoyable day trip," cooed Gopal, a 22-year-old housewife who wore a mustard-colored sari as she slowly pushed a giant wagon through the air-conditioned superstore.

For shoppers like Gopal, the arrival of the world's largest retailer in one of the world's largest marketplaces has brought more praise than protest. In recent weeks, crowds have swarmed the store, located on the Grand Trunk Road, the ancient and fabled trade route that stretches across India and into Pakistan.

They all want to get a glimpse of the warehouse-like store and its neatly organized bulk packages of sugary fruit juice, flat-screen televisions and tubs of Indian sweets. Although Wal-Mart has occasionally been the subject of controversy in the United States, the store here -- BestPrice Modern Wholesale, a joint venture with India's Bharti group -- has drawn excitement and wonder.
Politicians and political activists, meanwhile, aren't so happy:
To protect its smaller merchants, the Indian government has ordered that Wal-Mart sell only to wholesalers, as well as business owners and their families and friends, a move that has eased the tensions among the merchant associations and left-wing political parties. Business owners are allowed to grant access to the store to up to three friends and family members, and many others are clamoring to borrow membership cards for a chance to benefit from the low prices.

...India Foreign Direct Investment Watch, a national coalition of labor unions, environmentalists, nonprofit groups and academics, has said that the company will eventually hurt shopkeepers, even if its store is not open to everyone in the general public.

"Wal-Mart's sheer size gives it unrestrained economic power, which allows it to drive down costs in the retail and manufacturing sectors and to enact its own standards with regards to its work force," the group said in a statement.
It's a similar story here in the U.S.

1 comment:

lazer said...

vince = bought a shower curtain @ walmart on sat.