Big-Box Retailers and Urban Carbon Emissions: The Case of Wal-Mart

24 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2014 Last revised: 30 Sep 2014

See all articles by Matthew E. Kahn

Matthew E. Kahn

University of Southern California; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Nils Kok

University of Maastricht - Limburg Institute of Financial Economics (LIFE)

Date Written: February 2014

Abstract

The commercial real estate sector is responsible for a large share of a city's overall carbon footprint. An ongoing trend in this sector has been the entry of big-box stores such as Wal-Mart. Using a unique monthly panel data set for every Wal-Mart store in California from 2006 through 2011, we document three main findings about the environmental performance of big-box retailers. First, Wal-Mart's stores exhibit very little store-to-store variation in electricity consumption relative to a control group of similar size and vintage retail stores. Second, Wal-Mart's store's electricity consumption is lower in higher priced utilities and is independent of the store's ownership versus leased status. Third, unlike other commercial businesses, Wal-Mart's newer buildings consume less electricity. Together, these results highlight the key roles that corporate size and centralization of management play in determining a key indicator of a firm's overall environmental performance.

Suggested Citation

Kahn, Matthew E. and Kok, Nils, Big-Box Retailers and Urban Carbon Emissions: The Case of Wal-Mart (February 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w19912. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2400238

Matthew E. Kahn (Contact Author)

University of Southern California ( email )

2250 Alcazar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nils Kok

University of Maastricht - Limburg Institute of Financial Economics (LIFE) ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200 MD
Netherlands

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