Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A New Store Opens in Grecia - Our Life in Costa Rica Yr #2

Walmart - the store you love to hate!!

Let me start off by saying, I am NO fan of Walmart. The conditions under which their US employees work is atrocious among other things!! I DO NOT shop at Walmart in the states.

However, Walmart is BIG in Costa Rica. 

Walmart entered the region in 2005 and became Walmart Centroamérica in 2006. In 2009, Walmart Mexico acquired Walmart's operations in Central America from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and two minority partners. In 2010, Walmart Mexico became Walmart de Mexico y Centroamérica, Headquartered in San Jose, Costa Rica

Walmart Centroamérica
 operates 531 stores in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica

Walmart invested $160.5 million in Costa Rica, a record high for the company. The investment included the construction of 24 new stores in Costa Rica which will generate 839 new jobs adding up to a grand total of 11,600 Walmart jobs in Costa Rica. The company has 247 stores in Costa Rica – owning all Maxi Bodega, Más X Menos, and Palí stores. These stores are meeting shopper’s basic needs and benefiting thousands of customers in Costa Rica. Source

 I have not shopped at a Palí store, however this is the store of choice for many of the locals

So why I am willing to shop at Walmart ? Well, they have created almost 12,000 jobs for many Costa Ricans which has helped them improve their lives and their standard of living in the process. Furthermore, by law all employers in Costa Rica have to provide health care and other benefits for their employees, like an extra month’s pay at Christmas time. One of the company’s stated goals in Costa Rica is to improve the quality of life in the communities where it has stores. In 2011 Walmart’s associates donated more than 6,000 hours as volunteers in a variety of community projects. Source

Costa Rica workers seem to be a lot better off than than their counterparts in the states. 

In Costa Rica the Ministry of Labor (Ministerio de Trabajo) sets the minimum wage scale.  The wage scale is  applicable to all workers in Costa Rica.   The minimum wage scale is reviewed by the wage council of the Ministry of Labor twice a year. As of Nov 21, 2017 - According to information provided by the Ministries' of Labor of the Central American countries -- Costa Rica paid the highest minimum wages in the region, while Nicaragua pays the lowest. All employers in Costa Rica are obligated to comply with the minimum wage scale.   An employer may not pay their worker’s less than the amount established in the minimum wage scale.

In Costa Rica the Walmart supermarket chain has

11 Walmart stores, 36 Mas X Menos stores, 39 Maxi Palí stores and 162 Palí stores.

Would I prefer to shop at another store? Sure I would, but as a retired expat living in Costa Rica with no car, we sometimes make choices we might not choose if we were in the states. The nearest alternate store option for us is PriceSmart (similar to Cost Plus) located in Alajuela (a 25 minute bus ride to Grecia Central followed by 45 minute bus ride to Alajuela plus a taxi ride from there to the store) then back again on the bus with bags of groceries. 

Whether Walmart is a good choice for the people of Costa Rica is a decision for the people of Costa Rica to make. This is not my fight!

A quick 60 sec look at our trip to the new store Mas X Menos (More For Less)
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