Poll reveals different attitude about NYC Walmart

A new poll regarding Walmart's possible entry in New York yielded quite different responses than the one the world's largest retailer featured on its promotional website. According to the New York Daily News, a survey of 300 small retail shop owners throughout the city overwhelmingly said they would not welcome a Walmart in their neighborhood.

The survey, which was conducted by Gotham Government Relations, a Long Island, N.Y. consulting firm, found that 73% of groceries and convenience stores did not like the idea of Walmart coming to New York City. The Daily News reported that this was in contradiction to Walmart's poll, which found that 62% of the city's small business owners favor bringing it to the city.

Gotham found that only 32% of the polled stores did not have a problem with Walmart opening in New York, while 56% agreed that it would have a devastating effect on small businesses throughout the city.

The Daily News went on to cite an op-ed piece by Gristedes owner John Catsimatidis ran in its paper las week. Local, independent stores, he says, invest 85% of the money they earn in the city while national chains invest only about 15% of their revenues locally.

"Wherever the retail giant has located, smaller competitors - the ones that have always helped shape the character of our cities - struggle to stay in business," he said.

The Daily News reported that Steve Restivo questioned the validity of the Gotham survey.

"Who else have they done polls for? I thought they were lobbyists not pollsters," Restivo told the paper. According to the Daily News, Restivo thinks Catsimatidis was really behind the poll.

"From our perspective, it is telling that Gristedes couldn't get the results they wanted from a scientific poll - like ours was - and instead had to ask their lobbyist to do an informal one with preselected retail shops."

Restivo may have a point. Gristedes is listed as a client of Gotham Government Relations, so while it may not have commissioned the poll, its association with this lobbying group raises concerns. Of course, questions can be raised about Walmart's own poll, which could have been easily orchestrated to yield favorable results.

Any number of surveys can provide support for or against Walmart coming to New York City. In the end, whether or not Walmart comes to New York will be up to its residents who can put pressure on politicians to sway one way or the other.