The CEO of Walmart recently announced that a majority of the products it sells are made in America. But retail industry experts say that, assuming it’s even true, this fact is not a sign that the nation’s largest retailer is making a greater shift toward purchasing American-made products.
A rep for Big W says 54% of the store’s total sales now come from groceries and household goods, most of which comes from American sources.
But industry experts caution that this shift isn’t because Walmart is being patriotic. It’s just that more people now go to Walmart to buy affordable groceries and not for foreign-made items like electronics and cheap apparel.
Just 7% of its sales last year came from clothes, down 1% from the prior year; 12% from electronics, also down 1% from the prior year; and 5% from home-related merchandise. These items generally come from overseas.
“If Wal-Mart says it’s sourcing more from the United States, it’s happening by default,” says the president of independent consulting firm Customer Growth Partners, which
conducts weekly price checks at stores like Wal-Mart and Target. “A vast majority of [Wal-Mart's] groceries, household goods and health and beauty products are made in the United States.”
The executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing tells CNN that while Walmart might be buying more U.S.-sourced grocery items, it doesn’t seem to be purchasing anything more from American manufacturers: “Wal-Mart was the trendsetter in persuading American manufacturers to outsource… It would be nice to see them lead the reshoring fad. But there’s scant evidence of it yet.”
CNN also parses Walmart CEO Mike Duke’s statement that “the vast majority of our units sold are produced in the U.S.” by pointing out that a “unit” means everything from a single apple to a carton/jug of milk to a roll of toilet paper. These are things that are often bought either in bulk or on a more frequent basis than most of the foreign-made products on Walmart shelves.