Mapping Walmart’s rise

I’ve seen this before but it is still a cool set of maps: watch Walmart expand across the United States.

Several things I like about this:

1. The flowing data is a nice touch as you can see changes over time. Maps can sometimes appear to be static but merging them into a time-series presentation makes it more dynamic.

2. This is a reminder that Walmart began as a Southern regional retailer who then expanded greatly. Though it is hard to remember a time when Walmarts were not located pretty much everywhere, its rise was not inevitable and it was relatively recent.

3. I remember the first Walmart that opened in our area in the Chicago suburbs. It did seem like an oddity as it had such a range of products and low prices. For example, I bought many of my first CDs there as it was significantly cheaper than the local music stores like Tower Records or Sam Goody. Of course, that initial store looks paltry compared to the more recent editions that feature even more products including a full grocery section.

4. I wonder if this couldn’t be enhanced with some other layers of data. Perhaps color shadings for each state that would show Walmart’s share of the retail market. Or the sales figures for each state. Or the number of Walmart employees per state. For critics, perhaps the number of local businesses that were forced out of business by Walmart (though this would probably be difficult to quantify).

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