In case a pair of polls showing a majority of New Yorkers supporting Wal-Mart's presence in the city don't make a believer out of you, the big box retailer has released data today showing that spending by New Yorkers in area Wal-Marts has risen 10% to $215 million. The largest increase came from Manhattanites, who spent 26%, or $65.1 million more at Wal-Mart than they did last year. But what these figures belie is the fact that there is no where else to shop in the 'burbs but Wal-Mart.

"New Yorkers continue to look to Wal-Mart to help them stretch their family budget and save," a senior director of community affairs at Wal-Mart told Crane's [free subscription], presumably while jumping on a $300 trampoline and eating out of a family-sized bag of ham. The $215 million in sales costs the city an estimated $7.7 million in sales tax revenue, but then again, it's unclear whether a Manhattanite would set foot in a Wal-Mart if they knew they could be seen by neighbors and peers.

Wal-Mart has been desprately showing the city that it wants to go steady, with a flood of suspiciously well-timed donations and fancy omelette breakfasts to ease into a possible store in East New York. However, those who feel (with good reason) that Wal-Mart may not treat their employees as well as the bodega down the street remain skeptical. "If Wal-Mart makes so much money from New York City residents, it can obviously afford to give workers bathroom breaks, to fight blight and crime at its stores and to sign legally binding community benefit agreements," the president of the Black Institute says. "It just chooses not to."

Maybe, but if they started allowing bathroom breaks, we'd have to pay less for our Little Mermaid Aquarium kit.