Losing a Walmart could be lethal for some towns that are barely holding on, DePillis writes in another story for the Post. Residents of Kimball, W.Va., which is already reeling from the loss of mining jobs, fear that losing its Walmart could be the end of the town. "In Raymondville, Texas, the disappearance of tax income from Walmart could force city layoffs. In Oriental, N.C. the arrival of a Walmart Express had been the final straw for a local grocery store, leaving the community with few options for food—also the case in Juneau, Alaska; Fairfield, Ala.; and Winnsboro, S.C."
While Walmart officials cite financial performance as the primary factor in closing stores, an analysis by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that 89 percent of stores to be closed are "in states with higher-than-average square footage per capita. According to Walmart itself, 95 percent of the closures are within 10 miles of another Walmart." That suggests the company overbuilt, perhaps in areas that have stagnant or declining population.
"The company didn’t get what it wanted in profits," DePillis reports. "But the store certainly met many needs of the community. Some are obvious: A second option for shoppers who wanted fresh, affordable food in a place with only one other full-service grocer. And jobs—140 of them that will be difficult to replace. But Walmart’s disappearance will have more subtle ripple effects, like a drop in traffic to the small neighboring hotel and gas station, and the loss of a place to buy phone cards and hire tax preparation help. It was the main donor to the local food bank, and contributed $65,000 annually in taxes to the county, most of which goes to the school district."