Walmart in El Salvador? Provides jobs or undercuts local business?

Today was a big day. I saw it in the news, heard it on the radio, and even read it on a sign pulled behind a rented Bi-Plane! Walmart llego! there were clowns on stilts dancing at the mall! There were counter pro-testers from Super Selectos just outside the mall property too! holding signs that read “Super Salvadoreno!”, encouraging locals to stick with the locally owned chain.

Walmart arrived here years ago. Dispensa Don Juan, Dispensa Familiar, and Hyper Paiz are all owned by Walmart. Previous posts referred to shopping at Walmart in El Salvador in 2011 in the form of Hyper Paiz, and to be honest, I found the random items I was looking for, at a low price, all in a comfortable, familiar structure. El Salvador is a great place to provide low prices but it is not a good place to undercut local businesses and knock them out of business.

I committed long ago to avoiding Walmart. It’s not a boycott, but an affirmative act. I have a love of small independent business people, and prefer to vote for them with my dollars. Id rather spread my money across those various outlets than give it all to one single foreign owned business. I buy from friends.

That said I have more than one (intelligent) friend claiming they could not have made it as a single mother without Walmart pricing and convenience. Others praise Walmart’s good service, and low prices. They value the jobs the company creates, and the tax revenue they generate. Some say they actualy do CREATE jobs rather than CONSOLIDATE them.

super selectos, "el unico super salvadoreno" voicing their view

Detractors contend Walmart steals sales from local business-people, and that because they shut down local businesses, and move most of the profits offshore to the shareholders, the net effect on local economies is negative. This camp believes dominant foreign companies prevent local economic development, and remove opportunities in high paying professions, independent of foreign chains. Having a plethora of small, local indepedant stores is one of the better things about living in El Salvador.

For better or worse Walmart is now here in force, and with plenty of marketing muscle. The lines are long, so clearly they are wanted by many! In the meantime I’m heading to the market stalls for some fresh Mamones and Nispero! I’ll grab some pupusas and figure out how to get a cheap plastic set of porch furniture without them! Oh wait..I hate cheap plastic stuff, I’m headed to Izalco for some handmade wooden awesomeness from a craftsman, even if I have to save up for a little while!

For more on the debate check some data info and sights! There are more than a few more, its a hot topic. Whichever side you choose, your dollars are the votes that count!

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About Nanelle

Nanelle is a 43 year old former Ballet Dancer and Police Officer. Join her on their move to El Salvador, Living life in El Salvador as an American expat woman and loving it.

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9 Responses to “Walmart in El Salvador? Provides jobs or undercuts local business?”

  1. Diana Says:

    Wal-Mart debate depends on a person's economic state. When I am pinching pennies to pay for really important stuff like rent and gas, I love wal-mart.

    When I am flush financially, I can then afford to shop at independent stores. Well actually that is only a theory. There are no independent stores for clothes, shoes, household items in my country.

    And since Wally-world carries the same brands/types/styles of lawn furniture, cushions, bedding etc as smaller stores……but at lower prices; well I gotta make the Wal-Mart choice.

    Besides as my three year old grandson told me as he looked deep into my eyes seated in his Wal-Mart shopping cart, "Grandma, I LOVE Wal-mart!'

    How can I turn away from true love?

    • nanelle Says:

      That is a point a few people have brought up when I get all on my high horse. Can anyone ask a broke person to pay more to theoretically help the overall rightness of the economy? its a good question.

  2. Andy Says:

    setting aside the obvious "do you REALLY need yet another set of crappy plastic lawn furniture?" and focusing more on the products offered. It is very common knowledge that the "brands" at walmart are NOT the same brands and certainly NOT the same products sold elsewhere. Those brands are either SIMPLY rented names OR they make a much cheaper and crappier version for Walmart. But they are never the same brands or models. You can not make everything cheaper always and keep it the same. that is not possible. Someone has to pay the cost.

  3. Rodney Says:

    The way I see it, purchasing at Walmart is effectively an investment in China's economy, and the company's bottom line. With that in mind, I haven't shopped there since college. This, however, is entirely a first-world consideration. If I were back in El Salvador, I must admit it would be difficult to resist the temptation to save a few bucks by frequenting them. Especially with the increasing cost of living. An awful dilemma, and one I hope politicians are taking into account. Any idea what the union situation is like in E.S. Walmarts?

    • nanellenewbom Says:

      I will see if I can find out about unions at Walmart here. My first (but uneducated) response would be, that workers here are very protective of their job status, and I will be surprised to learn there is an active union, or even an effort to form one. That said, I do not fully understand it, but several people told me that foreign corporations like Walmart are better employers than most, by comparison. No matter what, overly cheap products hurt everyone, in my opinion. We all like a bargain, but I think systematic price crushing does nobody any good. I will try to find out what the union situation is here. I may be surprised (happens alot)

      • Andy Newbom Says:

        Well… I tried, but I found no sign of unions at El Salvador walmarts. I found an article about union bashing in Venezuela, but no Walmart employees had any ideas what I was yammering about!

  4. Gaby Says:

    I just came back from visiting my family in El Salvador in mid-September and during my time there is where I realized the existence of Wal-Mart in that region. I for one, in my 22 years of existence, never set a foot in a Wal-Mart store but when my aunt surprisingly took me to "El Super," I thought she was taking me elsewhere at first, but then it turned out to be Wal-Mart. I never felt such sickness in my stomach, knowing how Anti-Walmart I am, and my aunt doing her grocery shopping there. I told her everything about my hate for Walmart and what it represents.

    I wish more people will realize what a monster Wal-Mart really is. Wal-Mart will be the death of us all as long as people are putting their dollars in their pockets. I wish my people in El Salvador, for example, will continue shopping local and support small businesses. They are everywhere! I know the situation is though out there and Wal-Mart took advantage of that and sold the idea of "Save Money, Live Better." while also proving "more jobs" for the community…low-paying, no-benefit jobs…in the end the community is getting robbed.

    Wal-Mart is there for the lust of profit…nothing more….

    Continue to support local while it is still possible. Good post.

  5. yanet Says:

    que dia se va a poner la oferta a mitad de precio todo los jugetes