Will Walmart make a sizable impact with its latest ‘Made in USA’ commitments?
Walmart announced earlier this week that it plans to invest an additional $350 billion over the next 10 years to source products made, assembled or grown in the U.S. The retailing giant makes the pledge on top of similar commitments made in recent years.
Sam Walton firmly wrapped his business in the American flag when he founded it in 1962. Later, however, the chain chose to go overseas to source lower priced goods in an effort to undercut its rivals and drive higher profits. The chain, whose market influencing power has grown steadily over the decades, was frequently criticized for the loss of manufacturing capacity and jobs in the U.S.
The economic impact of the Great Recession and other factors such as automation and speed to market, however, led Walmart and others to reconsider sourcing practices.
In January 2013, Bill Simon, the former president of Walmart U.S., spoke at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show to outline a vision of “economic renewal” being driven by retail and aided by a $250 billion pledge from his company.
“When we work together, our retail industry can lead in a way no other industry can,” he said.
In July 2017, Walmart issued its “Policy Roadmap to Renew U.S. Manufacturing” report, a 10-point plan intended to breathe new life into the domestic industry. The retailer identified trade policy barriers that, if removed, could create as many as 1.5 million new jobs in product manufacturing for categories such as cookware, furniture and sporting goods.
John Furner, the current president and CEO, Walmart U.S., writing about the chain’s planned $350 billion investment estimates that it “will support more than 750,000 new American jobs” with six categories of focus including food processing, goods not for resale, pharmaceutical and medical supplies, plastics, small electrical appliances and textiles.
Walmart is also launching a plan to bring together stakeholders in various parts of the U.S. to “identify and overcome top-down barriers to U.S. production,” Mr. Furner wrote. He said that the initiative, known as “American Lighthouses”, would bring together manufacturers and non-governmental organizations as well as others from academia, government and economic development groups to improve efficiencies in the supply chain and create a more sustainable business model for U.S. manufacturing going forward.
- Investing in the Future of U.S. Manufacturing, Our Commitment to American Jobs – Walmart
- Walmart reports record Q4 and FY21 revenue. Annual revenue of nearly $560 billion resulted in $35 billion of growth; $40 billion of growth in constant currency – Walmart
- Walmart Outlines Policy Roadmap to Renew U.S. Manufacturing – Walmart
- NRF: Walmart Goes Big On Red, White and Blue – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is Walmart leading the way, mirroring or playing catch up to other retailers when it comes to supporting U.S. manufacturing? What do you see as the practical implications of Walmart’s various moves when it comes to sourcing more products from America?