Two recent polls give conflicting views about New Yorkers' desire for Walmart to set up shop in the city.

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Walmart in NYC: Small-business polls differ

January 18th, 2011

NEW YORK – Two recent polls give conflicting views about New Yorkers' desire for Walmart to set up shop in the city.

A survey of 300 owners and managers of small and midsize retail stores in New York City, released Tuesday by lobbying and advocacy firm Gotham Government Relations, found that 56% of respondents opposed the idea of Walmart opening stores in the city.

Meanwhile, 11% expressed indifference when asked, "Are you for or against Walmart opening stores in New York City?", and 32% said they supported the idea of Walmart stores in the city, according to Gotham.

By category, most of the small-business opposition to Walmart stores in New York City came from grocery (66%), supermarket (69%), toy (83%), arts and crafts (57%), hardware (60%), electronics (71%) and convenience store (73%) retailers, the poll found.

"Only 32% of small businesses in New York City favor Walmart opening up stores here. The majority of people surveyed believe that Walmart will destroy small business and that the employee benefits are unacceptable," Gotham stated in a news release on the survey. "The respondents are not part of a special interest group ... Rather, small business is the heart and soul of this city, and they overwhelmingly are against Walmart."

Gotham said the phone survey, conducted Dec. 14 to Jan. 1 by Gotham Polling, came in response to a Walmart-commissioned poll released in mid-December finding that 62% of New York City small-business owners favor bringing Walmart stores to the five boroughs.

Reported by business journal Crain's New York Business, that survey was conducted by Democratic pollster Doug Schoen and randomly sampled 400 small businesses in the city, asking whether they wanted Walmart to come to the boroughs. According to Crain's, 55% of small retailers polled supported the idea (36% opposed), 65% of service-focused businesses favored a Walmart (25% opposed), and 75% of commercial businesses endorsed the notion of Walmart coming to town (19% opposed).

Walmart earlier this month launched, a web site that the Bentonville, Ark.-based discount store giant said gives New Yorkers who want a Walmart store in the boroughs an outlet to express their support.

On the site, Walmart posted results of a Schoen survey of New York City residents finding that 71% support the opening of a Walmart store in the city, with 24% opposed and 5% saying they're not sure. By borough, most of the support for a Walmart store came from the Bronx (80%), Brooklyn (76%) and Queens (70%), though a majority of respondents in Staten Island (66%) and Manhattan (59%) also indicated they favored a Walmart store coming to town.

"We know that job creation and access to affordable food are significant needs in the city, and we think our stores can be part of the solution," Walmart community affairs director Steven Restivo said in a statement on the launch of "At the same time, we know New Yorkers overwhelmingly support Walmart, so we're using social media to listen to the conversation, tell our story and give our supporters a voice."

Walmart reported that in February it plans to set up informational kiosks at New York metropolitan-area stores in Secaucus and North Bergen, N.J., and in Valley Stream, N.Y., to spur awareness of the site among customers.