Walmart has announced their intention to bolster the economy and support American products by spending $350 billion on “products made, assembled or grown in the U.S.” over the course of the next 10 years, according to CNBC.
While Walmart already stocks products and uses materials from American sources—purportedly culminating in over 60% of their listed goods—this initiative would increase dramatically the number of domestic materials and products used and stocked by the retail giant.
Walmart hopes to increase demands for jobs and American-made products in this way.
This isn’t the first time that Walmart has shown interest in buying from homegrown sources. When Walmart was criticized by labor activists and other groups for pushing jobs overseas by lowering prices, the retailer responded by announcing a plan to purchase $250 billion in American goods and services by 2023.
Several sources noted that, were Walmart to keep to their growth trajectory, spending that $250 billion would denote a little over 3% of their sales over the prior decade. By upping the ante to $350 billion in the next 10 years, one must wonder how insignificant the financial impact of doing so will be. However, the goal of creating additional jobs and reinvigorating the American economy couldn’t come at a better time.
Other (seemingly ancillary) benefits of this investment in domestic products include a theoretically reduced carbon footprint, a reinstatement of the long-lost “Made in USA” label, and the chance to cater to customer concerns.
In the announcement, Walmart CEO John Furner also drew attention to a new program dubbed “American Lighthouses” in which government officials, suppliers, and other think tank-adjacent individuals and groups will determine cost-effective ways to eliminate domestic production-related issues along the way. Ultimately, Walmart will seek to grow U.S. manufacturing while mitigating barriers for individual sources of product.
Time will tell if Walmart can stick to their goal of supporting American products and materials when costs overseas provide a cheaper alternative. Should Walmart find a way to source reliably the items they need to keep this promise, the manufacturing jobs they create may very well be offset by a decrease in in-house jobs due to rising prices and an invariable turn to automation.