The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company says it is “leading an American renewal in manufacturing” and “bringing jobs back to the U.S.” with its pledge made in January to buy an additional $50 billion in U.S.-made goods over the next 10 years.
But an examination of the company’s “Made in America” campaign suggests Wal-Mart’s caught on to a reshoring phenomenon that was already underway.
In many cases, Wal-Mart’s suppliers had already decided to produce in the United States, as rising wages in China and other emerging economies, along with increased labor productivity and flexibility back home, eroded the allure of offshore production.
In January, TIME magazine wrote that Walmart’s announcement about purchasing $50 billion in U.S. made goods represented the company “merely dressing up what it had already planned to do”; Walmart is already on track to purchase $50 billion more over the next decade if it grows at the same rate. The announcement that Walmart U.S. President Bill Simon called a “bold commitment” is actually, according to TIME, not “any special effort” for Walmart.
So not only is the company boasting about doing something it’s already on course to do, it is cynically trying to take credit for “leading” an ongoing trend that its suppliers are actually responsible for.
A couple weeks ago, Walmart U.S. President Bill Simon told the Reuters Global Consumer and Retail Summit that the Made in the USA announcement was “not a public relations effort.” Well, Bill, we hate to break it to you, but it sure seems like it is.