Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fishing at Wal-Mart
Like nearly all mid-westerners, we shop at Wal-Mart. It's convenient. That's the main reason. We can get-everything-from-soup-to-shellac in one stop.

Like nearly all shoppers, we find it sometimes find it convenient to go to Wal-Mart "A" instead of Wal-Mart "B."

Like nearly no one, I prefer to eat the same thing for long stretches of time. Currently, seeking maximum protein in minimum bulk, I am eating sardines and crackers for supper. Desert is yogurt.

So, here's the question: why are the same brand (Beach Cliff) sardines eighteen cents more per can in Wal-Mart "B" than they are in Wal-Mart "A?"

Is it because Wal-Mart "B" is in a prosperous neighborhood of a city while Wal-Mart "A" is in a rural community 25-miles from the city? 

Of course, questioning Wal-Mart would be parallel to questioning Exxon about the price of gasoline at the pump, or as the ol' country saying goes, "Figures lie, and liars figure."

I have read that Wal-Mart was one of the first retail enterprises to use minimum inventory tactics. As I understand it, the bar-coded purchase goes from register to computer to satellite uplink to Wal-Mart's secret underground bunker. Shipments of replacement goods are matched to sales figures. That I can understand: technology reduces operating costs.

What I can't understand is discriminatory pricing. Yes, I know it isn't as economically unjust as the growing discrepancy between executive and worker wages, but it is discriminatory. 

One thing that can be said is that Wal-Mart is at least seeking the most money (discriminating against) from the more prosperous. Over the years, I have read that one subversive piece of economic discrimination is over-pricing of necessities in depressed areas. Who knows if Wal-Mart prices can of sardines in, say, a prosperous neighborhood of Chicago higher than it does, as an example, on the south side?

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