Wal-Mart back in favor

Company less 'evil' compared to banks?

By Kim Peterson Oct 27, 2009 2:24PM

Wal-Mart logo © WalmartHas Wal-Mart (WMT) become the company we love to . . . love?

The retailing giant doesn't seem that evil anymore, now that we've seen the utter devastation that the banking industry has wreaked, Fortune's Hank Gilman writes.

Wal-Mart doesn't need bailouts. It isn't raising credit card interest rates to 30%. It isn't kicking people out of foreclosed homes.

And so while Wal-Mart may never become a corporate angel, it's been moved over to the "not-so-bad" pile.

The economic downturn has made Wal-Mart more attractive, even to those who swore never to shop there. It's hard to turn your nose up at Wal-Mart's prices when you've lost a job.

And, Gilman writes, Wal-Mart has gone out of its way to improve its public image. It has given better heath care to its workers, and has even promoted covering the uninsured and taking care of the environment.

"I think people are weary of the 'Wal-Mart vs. Mom and Pop' story line," Gilman writes. "Wal-Mart may have contributed to the decline of Main Street shopping, but the ugly truth is some of these merchants had it coming -- they didn't serve their customers very well."

To be sure, we'll see more PR flubs from Wal-Mart in the future --  a company of that size will have its every move scrutinized -- but for now, the retailer is getting a bit of a pass from the public.

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