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Local Walmart makes NPR

NPR featured a local Wal-Mart in a recent story on how middle-of-the-night shopping is linked to poverty:

Take a trip to one of those 24-hour Walmarts on the last day of every month, and you’ll get a glimpse into the lives of low-income families trying to get by. At one location in Fredericksburg, Va., at around 11 p.m., families start to load up on necessities like diapers and groceries.

The story is an interesting snapshot of the latest economic times (that period between recession and recovery). I assume it comes from an earlier NPR blog post, which I had saved as a future story idea. What struck me from that post (a quote from Bill Simon, head of Wal-Mart’s U.S. operations):

And you need not go further than one of our stores on midnight at the end of the month. And it’s real interesting to watch, about 11 p.m., customers start to come in and shop, fill their grocery basket with basic items, baby formula, milk, bread, eggs, and continue to shop and mill about the store until midnight, when … government electronic benefits cards get activated and then the checkout starts and occurs. And our sales for those first few hours on the first of the month are substantially and significantly higher.

And if you really think about it, the only reason somebody gets out in the middle of the night and buys baby formula is that they need it, and they’ve been waiting for it. Otherwise, we are open 24 hours — come at 5 a.m., come at 7 a.m., come at 10 a.m. But if you are there at midnight, you are there for a reason.


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  • Gina

    I would bet WalMart takes advantage of this “peak” period by increasing their prices. To save money, I shop at Bottom Dollar for canned food, frozen foods, etc. – I noticed a few months ago there is a slight increase on items like sugar, cereal, milk, etc., for the first week or two of every month. This is gouging and not fair for families living on a fixed income!

  • Tanya

    I happen to know-based on first hand knowledge that WALMArt does not go through the store and increase their prices at the beginning of the month. Increases that you have seen is across the board in EVERY store and on everything. These price increases are from increased taxes and SUPPOSED increases in fuel prices. You also have to take into account droughts, floods and the fact that our farmers are not allowed to farm for the citizens of the United States. Instead the government pays them not to plant and then they turn around and buy rice and grains from China. Before you go spouting off again make sure to do your research

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  • Wiseman

    Who listens to NPR?