Revisiting WalMartâ€™s Impact on Iowa Small-Town Retail
Ken Stone conducted the first study of WalMart storesâ€™ economic impact in Iowa in 1988. Since then, research on WalMartâ€™s impacts has exploded. Recent studies employ sophisticated statistical techniques to more accurately measure the size and direction of effects. Many reach conclusions similar to Stoneâ€™s original work. This article updates the original Stone study with additional years of data. It draws on recent methodological advances to help account for the effects of WalMartâ€™s strategic location decisions on estimated retail sales in Iowa. As is consistent with previous studies, we find that WalMartâ€™s entry into smaller trade centers in Iowa had a big initial impact on host-town retail sales, with some categories experiencing significant increases while others saw declines in sales per capita. WalMartâ€™s presence helped stabilize or even expand the local retail sector of most rural Iowa host communities. To conclude, we discuss policy implications for local economic development officials.
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