Walmart is the largest retailer in America. It is also considered the one where items are the most affordable. At least, it has built its reputation on that. Walmart has 4,735 stores in the United States. The company claims 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart. No one has given a detailed analysis of how this can be true.
American purchasing power has been severely eroded by a surge in the cost of living. Recently, according to the consumer price index, monthly inflation in 2022 has risen by 8% year over year. Wages, for the most part, have not kept pace with this. In some cases, the prices of food and clothing are up much more than that. So are the prices of more expensive items, like cars.
While it is inconceivable that a family could not afford to go to Walmart regularly, it seems to be the case in at least one state. The median household income in Mississippi is $46,511. After taxes, that figure is likely closer to $35,000, or less than $3,000 a month.
Consider that home prices are less expensive than in most other states, but they have still risen above $164,000. A mortgage on a home of this price could be over $1,000 a month. Add to that fuel (which can be high if people drive long distances), utilities, food and medical care, and the after-tax income of these people has disappeared.
Walmart may be a place for people to shop for groceries. Beyond that, people in Mississippi have little income to buy more.
The Mississippi Walmart analysis is a good exercise in what people in the United States can afford. The U.S. poverty level for a family of four is $26,500. That figure rises if people in the household are elderly. By that standard, people in Mississippi are well off, but inflation has made that less true.
Can people who live in Mississippi shop at Walmart? Certainly some can, but inflation’s bite makes that number ever smaller.
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