Every so often some business kowtows to Wal-Mart by changing the cover of a book or magazine or releasing an alternate version of a CD with family-friendly lyrics or the like. Those things seem strange to me, but it’s because I keep forgetting just how big Wal-Mart has gotten. Here’s some interesting statistics about Wal-Mart from a Slate article today.

“Last year, Wal-Mart had $244 billion in sales. With 1.38 million employees, Wal-Mart is the world’s largest private employer. It profits by feeding cheap imports to insatiable, leveraged American consumers. . . . Today, it sells more toys than Toys ‘R’ Us. It entered the grocery business in the mid-’90s and is now the nation’s largest grocer. The company operates gas stations at 700 locations. From consumer electronics to books, Wal-Mart is proving the ultimate category killer. Just today, Wal-Mart announced it was going to get into DVD rentals.

“This Fortune article shows just how significant a force Wal-Mart is. Writer Jerry Useem identifies massive companies — Revlon, RJR, and Tandy Brands, to name a few—that derive more than 20 percent of their sales from Wal-Mart. As Useem writes:

“‘Wal-Mart is not just Disney’s biggest customer but also Procter & Gamble’s and Kraft’s and Revlon’s and Gillette’s and Campbell Soup’s and RJR’s and on down the list of America’s famous branded manufacturers. It means, further, that the nation’s biggest seller of DVDs is also its biggest seller of groceries, toys, guns, diamonds, CDs, apparel, dog food, detergent, jewelry, sporting goods, videogames, socks, bedding, and toothpaste—not to mention its biggest film developer, optician, private truck-fleet operator, energy consumer, and real estate developer.’”

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