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Can Wal-Mart change Japanese retail?

There’s a neat article in Far East Review (Online article requires a subscription) about how Walmart has acquired (or at least a part of) the 5th largest retailer in Japan (Seiyu) and has started a 5 year plan to figure out how to move into Japan.
However the article points out that the Japanese public is very finicky so Wal-mart has many hurdles to overcome to moving into Japan. Many other large retailers like Carrefour (A French based one) and some other ones have tried moving in Japan without much success. However, one of the things going for Wal-mart is the prices.
In the U.S. Walmart is REALLY ubiquitous and it’s mainly because of the prices. (Decent selection doens’t hurt either). Anyways, it seems Japanese retailers are now in a battle to keep their territory and in order to do so they are studying Wal-mart vigorously and *gasp* dropping prices! Overall if all the retailers start dropping their prices this will be better for the average Japanese consumer. One of the things i’ve heard so much is how Japan is soooo expensive to buy things. I’m sure that piles of consumer groups have complained for a long time but haven’t gotten anywhere. However, it seems once you bring a big player into town all the other players either adjust or try to handle the impending storm.
This situation reminds me of an excerpt in Fast Food Nation where it seems McDonald’s pretty much single-handledly changed the way Meat Packers pack their meat. Despite years of consumer lobbying the companies and the government trying to enforce laws with no teeth. It took a HUGE customer like McDonald’s to make a bunch of static busines entities change their methods.

I don’t know about you but that makes me feel like an ant. How about you?

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