Revealed: Wal-Mart’s New Expansion Strategy

College students will soon have a different late night joint from which to buy cheap pizza and soft drinks. Only now they’ll be able to purchase school supplies and their basic household needs in the same place they get their pizza, as Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) announced it will be opening two more college campus locations.

In 2011, Wal-Mart opened its first college campus location at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, reports Inside Higher Ed. A 5,000 square feet facility is scheduled to open at Arizona State University in May, with a location on Georgia Tech’s campus scheduled to open sometime next year.

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A Wal-Mart spokeswoman, Delia Garcia, said that the university stores would be “tailored to the on-campus customer, providing general merchandise, convenience items [and] pharmacy services.” Garcia was also adamant about the fact that the company is still testing this business model, and that no new locations are scheduled beyond Georgia Tech.

One item that Wal-Mart will refrain from providing is school textbooks. Charles Schmidt of the National Association of College Stores believes college bookstores need not be afraid of the company.

“Students already are going to big-box discounters, but at least if they’re in the same vicinity as your store, they are more liable to come in and give you the chance to ‘show them what you’ve got,’” Schmidt said. “Kind of a ‘mall’ effect”…

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With all due respect to Mr. Schmidt, college bookstores should be very afraid of Wal-Mart moving on campus. In fact, they’re not the only ones. Late night food places and convenience stores can be added to the long list of stores that should be worried Walmart will take business away. College students thrive on cheap meals and rubbing pennies together. What retailer is a more welcome sight for the broke college student than Wal-Mart?

As usual, Wal-Mart is facing criticism from various groups for venturing into the world of higher education, but that won’t prevent it from undercutting prices offered at local Ma and Pa stores. If the college campus stores prove to be a valuable asset for Walmart, they could be rolling back prices at higher learning institutions across the country.

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