Whole Foods vs. Wal-Mart (MAP)

A blog about business and economics.
March 11 2013 9:14 AM

A Map of Whole Foods vs. Wal-Mart in the Bay Area

bayarea

Jarrett Barrios tweeted this neat map earlier Monday highlighting the class divide in the geography of the San Francisco Bay Area and also, I would think, the differential land costs. Wal-Mart relies on a much larger per store footprint to generate a reasonable return on investment, so it's often not practical to build Wal-Marts in places where land is expensive.

Still, even though I don't expect the Bay Area to alter the pattern of dysfunctional land-use regulation that gives rise to this economic geography, I wonder how stable the divide will be. Wal-Mart is making a very deliberate effort to move into new markets (several stores in the works in Washington, D.C.), while Whole Foods almost necessarily has to find ways to move downmarket in order to keep growing.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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