CRC Daily: Is your local grocery store a Walmart?

Costa Rica has more Walmarts than you might expect.

Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue, so it’s no surprise there are several superstores in Costa Rica. But how much does Walmart actually own in Costa Rica? Now that number might shock you.

Walmart operates 277 stores across Costa Rica. Not all of these are Walmarts by name: In addition to 14 Walmart supercenters, the company owns Costa Rica’s:

  • 176 Palí stores.

  • 48 Maxi Palí stores.

  • 39 Mas X Menos stores.

So even if you’re not shopping at “Walmart,” there’s a good chance you are, in fact, shopping at a Walmart.

The U.S.-based retail corporation has dominated the Central American grocery market since 2006, when it obtained a majority share in the Central American Retail Holding Company — including several regional brands in addition to Palí and Mas X Menos.

As of June 2020, the company says it has 15,000 employees in Costa Rica.

What about Costa Rica’s other stores?

In 2018, Walmart hoped to purchase Perimercado and Súper Compro, but the transaction was rejected by Costa Rica’s Commission for the Promotion of Competition (Coprocom). Those chains were later sold to GERSA, a group owned by a family of Chinese origin.

The warehouse club PriceSmart was founded in the U.S. and is headquartered in California.

AutoMercado, founded in 1960 in Los Yoses, is Costa Rican. The chain also operates VINDI convenience stores.

Speaking of convenience stores, AMPM was founded in 1989 as a Costa Rica-owned family business. (They also operate Fresh Market.) Musmanni is owned by the Florida Ice & Farm Company, which is headquartered in Costa Rica.

All this to say: It’s hard to shop local, even when you are literally shopping locally.

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