District of Columbia officials are hopping mad. They agreed to allow (note the verb) Wal-Mart to open three stores in the city’s more affluent areas. Now Wal-Mart has decided not to build two additional supercenters promised for poorer neighborhoods.
Wal-Mart, in its biggest store closing ever, said last week it would shut 154 U.S. stores this month. It’s a place to start for anybody collecting gloom about the U.S. economy, especially the economy that low-wage workers and consumers inhabit.
Facing additional headwinds were the long-planned D.C. stores, and not just due to the regulatory hurdles and lobbying fees the company endured before being permitted to enter the market. Since then, a ballot measure seeks to boost the local minimum wage to $15 from $11.50, and the city has proposed legislation to mandate minimum hours for part-time workers and impose new family- and medical-leave requirements.
So Wal-Mart told city officials that the stores couldn’t be profitable and it was nixing them.