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Always Wal-Mart

Our most compelling facts on how Wal-Mart became a global success.

April 5, 2002

Our most compelling facts on how Wal-Mart became a global success.

The discount chain Wal-Mart is one of America’s biggest business success stories. More than 40 years ago, Sam Walton opened his first humble store in Rogers, Arkansas. Today, the Walton family owns the biggest retail business worldwide — and its members are now listed among some of the richest people in America. Our Globalist Factsheet takes a look at Wal-Mart’s success — and explores its outlook for the future.

How much have Wal-Mart’s revenues grown since its founding in 1962?

As of 2003, Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest grocer, toy seller and furniture retailer, with sales totaling $250 billion — greater than the GDP of Switzerland.

(The New York Times)

How big is a Wal-Mart store?

As of 2003, a Wal-Mart Supercenter takes up 200,000 square feet — the equivalent of four American football fields’ worth of stuff.

(International Herald Tribune)

What is Wal-Mart’s most recent achievement?

In 2002, Wal-Mart — with its $220 billion in revenues — topped the Fortune 500 list for the first time ever, overtaking ExxonMobil and General Motors.


What else is remarkable about this?

Wal-Mart became the first services company ever to lead the Fortune 500 — which until 1995 included only manufacturing companies.

(The Washington Post)

For all its profits, how much do Wal-Mart employees earn?

In 2003, Wal-Mart employees earned an average of $7.50 per hour — equivalent to an annual salary of $18,000.


How many U.S. customers does Wal-Mart serve?

In the United States, more than five million people pass through Wal-Mart stores every day.

(The Globalist)

How many Wal-Mart stores can one area afford?

Wal-Mart is able to place its stores closer than ever — as little as five miles apart — and is still able to make the company’s required return.

(Financial Times)

What kind of money can one expect to make with a discount store?

As of 2003, five of the 10 richest people in the world are Sam Walton’s children — each of them are worth about $20 billion.


How large is Wal-Mart compared to other industries?

Wal-Mart employs more people in the United States than the entire steel industry.


What is the actual number of employees?

As of 2003, Wal-Mart employs 1.3 million people worldwide. It overtook General Motors as the largest private employer in the United States back in 1997.

(International Herald Tribune)

Are Wal-Mart employees happy employees?

Many of Wal-Mart’s 6,000 truck drivers own Wal-Mart shares. Driver turnover at the company is only 5% a year — compared with an industry average of 125%.

(The Economist)

Where does Wal-Mart lead the field in computer technology?

Over 7,000 suppliers access Wal-Mart’s previous-day sales information system per day. Wal-Mart averages 120,000 trend analyses questions per week.


What is the secret behind beating the competition?

As of 1999, Wal-Mart’s data storage operations are twice as large as those of any other Fortune 500 company. Every store has the previous day’s transaction information available by 4 a.m. the next morning.


How important is ‘branding?’

To prevent disparaging use of their brand name, Wal-Mart stores in August 2000 registered more than 200 offensive names related to it.

(The Washington Post)

Does Wal-Mart dabble in U.S. politics?

Up to 10 million potential voters passed through 2,300 Wal-Mart stores and SAM’S Clubs during a two-day voter registration campaign — organized by Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club in conjunction with National Voter Registration Week.


And finally, is every customer a satisfied customer?

In 2002, Wal-Mart was sued 6,087 times — or once every 90 minutes.