Thanks to the Daily Sprawl reader who forwarded this interesting article on that very topic:
The Wal-Mart era, the retailer's time of overwhelming business and social influence in America, is drawing to a close.
Using a combination of low prices and relentless expansion, Wal-Mart Stores (WMT, news, msgs) emerged from rural Arkansas in the 1970s to reshape the world's largest economy. Its co-founder, Sam Walton, taught Americans to demand ever-lower prices and instructed businesses on running a lean company. His company helped boost America's overall productivity, lowered the inflation rate and strengthened the buying power for millions of people.
Over time, it also accelerated the drive to manufacture products in Asia, drove countless small shops out of business and sped the decline of Main Street. Those changes are permanent.
Today, though, Wal-Mart's influence over the retail universe is slipping. In fact, the industry's titan is scrambling to keep up with swifter rivals that are redefining the business all around it. It can still disrupt prices, as it did last year by cutting some generic prescriptions in the United States to $4. But success is no longer guaranteed.
Clean-up on aisle 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11....