The World Series is wrapping up in California, but Wal-Mart is striking out in the golden state. According to the Los Angeles Times, Wal-Mart swung and missed in Inglewood, California, where the City Council voted this week not to allow Wal-Mart to build a supercenter within the city limits. The vote was on an ordinance that prevents the building of stores bigger than 155,000 square feet which carry more than 20,000 s.f. in taxable items, which includes food. Passage of the ordinance was promoted by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, which plans to push for similar legislation in the city of Los Angeles. Passage of such a ban in L.A. would have a far more limiting effect on Wal-Mart’s growth plans in California. Wal-Mart indicated recently that it plans to open 40 supercenters in California over the next four to six years. There are no Wal-Mart Supercenters in California. The UFCW opposes Wal-Mart because the retailer is virulently non-union. The union spokesman told the Times that the ordinance was drafted in such a way that it would affect Wal-Mart without banning retailers such as Costco from the city. Costco is a unionized retail operation. A Wal-Mart spokesman said that the company is “not accepting that this ordinance is permanent yet,” Wal-Mart could petition for a referendum on the issue, or seek a legal repeal.
If you go to the September 25, 2002 Newsflash, you will find the story of a similar ordinance in Martinez, California. The California General Assembly passed a statewide ordinance similar to the Martinez and Inglewood ordinances, but it was vetoed by Governor Gray Davis. States with no Wal-Mart supercenters include: California, Hawaii, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Vermont. Texas has the most supercenters (135), twice as many as number two Florida (69) as of the end of the company’s fiscal year 2002.