Wal-Mart’s annual sales are $453 Billion. Yes – BILLION! A measly promise of $5 billion a year in American Made goods is a drop in the bucket to them. Wal-Mart is the biggest of the big box stores. They are also the biggest to blame for the US garment industry’s downfall. More than a half a million jobs in the garment industry were lost between 1996 to 2011.
Wal-Mart’s isn’t committed to American manufacturing; they’re committed to their bottom line and their shareholders. They promise to invest in more American made products like appliances and furniture. Bulky items are too expensive to import anymore because of high fuel costs. If they truly were committed to US manufacturing, they should commit the $50 billion into small goods and apparel – ANNUALLY!
You can say, “at least it’s a drop in the bucket.” Wal-Mart above any other retailer has the power to create real change and $5 billion a year back into American manufacturing has some weight. It’s a step in the right direction. I’ll give them that. – But what about investing in the half a million garment jobs that were lost in the past 15 years? What about sourcing in American garment factories, instead of foreign unregulated factories – which carries deadly consequences. Remember the November 2012 factory fire in Bangladesh where over 100 workers died? – Wal-Mart was their biggest customer.
I don’t want to get hung up on the crappy business practices of Wal-Mart. – We could be here all day. And that’s the reason I’ve been in a funk in the first place. I’ve completely buried myself in deciphering the ripple effects of Wal-Mart and American manufacturing. What I’ve learned isn’t pretty.
One statistic I couldn’t get out of my head is out of all the apparel sold within the United States, only 3% is made in the United States. 3%! That’s it! The other 97% is imported, mostly from countries with low-cost labor, and no environmental oversight. Back in 1990, it was 50% of apparel sold here was made here. In 1960 it was 95%. So yeah, now you can see why I’ve been in a funk.
It’s not entirely Wal-Mart’s fault, even if they are 6 times bigger than the next big box store – Target. It’s our fault too, for looking the other way all these years and letting that number get so low. How much further can we go?
Here at The Made in America Movement, we focus on highlighting the brands/companies that are part of the 3%. Raise your hand proud if you’re part of the 3%. Inspire others to follow your lead. Tell Wal-Mart we aren’t going to settle on their measly 1.5% commitment to ‘Buy American’.
Wal-Mart needs to do better. Every other box store in the US needs to do better. We ALL need to do better. We have to build on the 3%.
Here’s what you can do: Read your labels, Buy American, and inspire others to do so as well.
*findings from National Retail Federation and US Bureau of Labor and Statistics.