Revisiting Wal-Mart's impact on Iowa small town retail: twenty-five years later
Stone conducted the first study of Wal-Mart stores economic impact in Iowa in 1988. Since then, research on Wal-Mart’s impacts has exploded. Recent studies employ sophisticated statistical techniques to more accurately measure the size and direction of effects. Many reach conclusions similar to Stone’s original work. This paper updates the original Stone study with additional years of data. It draws on recent methodological advances to help account for Wal-Mart’s strategic location decisions on estimated retail sales impacts in Iowa. Consistent with previous studies, we find that Wal-Mart’s entry into smaller trade centers in Iowa had a big initial impact on host town retail sales, with some categories experiencing large significant increases while others saw declines in sales per capita. Wal-Mart’s presence helped to stabilize or even expand the local retail sector of most rural Iowa host communities. To conclude, policy implications for local economic development officials are discussed.