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In Minnesota, the Star Tribune has a story about how Walmart's decision to close 154 stores around the country is creating food deserts in three markets and "another 31 neighborhoods in 15 states will lack any place that sells fresh produce and meat once the last of the Wal-Mart stores slated for closure turns off the lights Feb. 5. However, poverty is not so pervasive in those neighborhoods that they would qualify as food deserts, as defined by the federal government."

According to the story, "A Wal-Mart spokesman said the company is still committed to ending food deserts. It is making donations to food banks in communities where stores are closing, increasing the budgets of stores in neighboring locations and also working with potential buyers of its stores' properties to bring other supermarkets to the affected neighborhoods ... The company also said it is sticking with its plans to open nearly as many stores over the coming year as it is closing now, although not necessarily near the locations it is leaving."
KC's View:
It seems to me that there are a couple of different things going on here, and it is important not to paint with too broad a brush.

We've had a couple of stories about the Walmart closings and how local folks are bemoaning the fact that they'll be left without a nearby store, because the Walmart put the competition out of business. But some MNB readers have pointed out to me that in some of these cases, these consumers at some point made a decision to patronize Walmart and not the local stores ... arguing that they are just reaping what they sowed. That's a legitimate argument ... in so many ways, customers get the competition they deserve.

I do think that to some degree it is disingenuous for Walmart to say it wants to address the problem of food deserts and then close stores that serve them; the whole notion of a food desert is that that it s place where perhaps one ought to apply different profitability standards than in other places.

But that's not where Walmart is right now. I think the closings reflect a recognition of the seismic changes taking place in the retail business, and it is making the hard choices necessary to position itself against Amazon, not the local IGA or regional chain.