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Study: Wal-Mart saved shoppers $263B
Company-funded study also says nation's biggest retailer has created 210,000 jobs since 1985.
November 4, 2005: 2:08 PM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Wal-Mart has generated 210,000 jobs and its prices have saved consumers $263 billion over the past 19 years, a company-funded study said Friday.

The study by economic forecaster Global Insight, which Wal-Mart commissioned, also said the nation's biggest retailer pays a fair wage, comparable to the industry average for positions in the same area. The study covers the period from 1985 to 2004, when Wal-Mart was expanding.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., has been under fire for years from critics who say its pay and employment practices aren't fair to workers.

The savings to consumers, which the company says amount to $895 per person, results from "the efficiencies Wal-Mart has fostered in the retail sector," Global Insight said in a statement.

The study reached its conclusion by saying that the period Wal-Mart (Research) was expanding coincided with a drop in some price categories measured in the Consumer Price Index.

"Consumers earned less in nominal dollars, but their income bought them more in the economy with Wal-Mart because of real disposable income gains," the study said.

A Wal-Mart critic didn't dispute the numbers in the study, but said they didn't represent the entire picture as the company also puts small stores out of business and got billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies.

"Customers may think they are saving money," said Tracy Sefl, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart Watch, a group that monitors the retailer and often criticizes its practices. "But if they are living in a state where governors are being forced to cut programs, that's directly related to shopping at Wal-Mart."

Sefl said the numbers just show how successful the retailer has been and noted the company should pay more of its fair share of taxes by not receiving subsidies from local governments, for example.

She also challenged the company to share its wealth by expanding health care coverage for their employees.

The report was presented along with other studies at a Wal-Mart-sponsored conference in Washington, D.C.

Wal-Mart stock edged lower in afternoon NYSE trading.

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