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As the Delta Optimist points out this place may have the biggest impact on the “commercial store activity” in Ladner and Tsawwassen-superstore Walmart opens in Tsawwassen Commons today. If the mega mall (which as locals have found, is profoundly empty except on the weekend) was not enough, the Walmart as part of the 550,000 square feet of  “local” retailing  of Tsawwassen Commons aimed directly at folks within a seven minute drive may be the coup de grace for Ladner and Tsawwassen businesses.

This Walmart is 150,000 square feet where the manager states “It’s going to offer a one-stop shop, so you can pick up your groceries that you would normally pick up once a week, but you can also pick up your socks or underwear or TV. It’s going to have everything. It’s built from scratch. It’s a bright store with the full LED lighting and it’s also a very well designed store, designed to make it very easy for the shopper.”

One quarter of this new building will be devoted to groceries, with the remaining area dedicated to a garden area, clothing, electronics, cosmetics and housewares.

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By offering many products and low prices, Walmart seeks to have a spatial monopoly, taking the bulk of trade away from local businesses. A study done by the Simon Business School showed that a Walmart supercenter typically impacts retailing within  a three-mile radius but not beyond that.

As the study notes: “Walmart’s entry does not negatively affect revenue or employment at grocery stores more than three miles away from the Walmart site. This seems to indicate that Walmart’s strategy of exploiting density economics by convincing consumers to travel farther for goods has not translated from dry goods to groceries.”  Consumers with discerning tastes won’t be frequenting a Walmart grocery and “it may be difficult to gather a sufficient mass of grocery shoppers under a single roof to generate the requisite scale.

So while many folks may travel a lot of kilometers to buy a computer, they may not want to do that with groceries in the post-motordom era. It remains to be seen whether local residents will forsake their local retailers and main streets in Ladner and Tsawwassen for the lure of a Walmart. This, like the huge crowds at the Tsawwassen Mills mega mall, may be a brief fascination.

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