Walmart Invasion

As an invasion biologist, the process of spatial spread is at the heart of what I do. When I came across this dataset of Walmart store openings since 1962 I couldn’t help but see it as an invasion front which looks a lot like a biological invasion or (albeit slow) epidemic.

The video shows monthly store openings (in red) between 1962 and 2006.

You can get the code I wrote for generating this visualization on my github page.


16 thoughts on “Walmart Invasion

  1. Very interesting work !

    I observe that the new opening are somehow following a “biological” schema: the new openings are closed to the previous ones when I expected to see the first openings in major US cities first.

    • Thanks for the heads up, but I think that vis predates my R implimentation. After I did this I found a few others who had visualized the same data sets using various tools (see the flowing data link above). I would love to see someone take my R code, make improvements and share it, though!

  2. Wonderful post,
    I am having difficulties replicating the post along with the post for and update on bayesian distributions,
    this is the error that i get:
    Error in png(paste(“plots/”, 1000 + frame, “.png”, sep = “”)) :
    unable to start png() device
    In addition: Warning messages:
    1: In png(paste(“plots/”, 1000 + frame, “.png”, sep = “”)) :
    Unable to open file ‘plots/1001.png’ for writing
    2: In png(paste(“plots/”, 1000 + frame, “.png”, sep = “”)) :
    opening device failed
    the error happends in the paste walmart post it happens with the variable year like in:
    Could you please help me understand what am I doing wrong? Thank you!

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  5. Thank you for doing this and making the code available! I modified it a bit for my own project – a video to demonstrate the pervasiveness of accusations of child sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America throughout the US from 1960-1985 based on the now-released BSA Ineligible Volunteer Files. The video can be found at And of course, full attribution is given at the YouTube site. Thanks again!

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