Say Goodbye to Big Boxes: Wal-Mart Opens a Convenience Store
A Wal-Mart convenience store has opened in Bentonville, Arkansas, where the company has headquarters, to little fanfare, according to a Monday report from CSPnet.com. A local newspaper in the state described the new, smaller Wal-Mart operation as a “hybrid format — part traditional model, part grocery, part quick-serve restaurant.”
The new, convenience-store style Wal-Mart, which is called “Walmart to Go” is a “one-off project,” according to Wal-Mart spokeswoman Deisha Barnett, per CSPnet.com. “It’s a convenience store test concept,” she said to the news outlet, adding that the company is “not planning any more across the country.”
Yet despite Barnett’s message to the contrary, it’s possible that the new Bentonville store, which opened its doors quietly earlier last week, is a bellwether of things to come for the retail giant, which along with other large-format stores has been struggling in mature markets.
Wal-Mart and other large retailers have been under increasing pressure recently to downsize as sales at supermarkets and hypermarkets continue to decline worldwide, according to a FierceRetail report. Wal-Mart has reacted to this global trend by “building more flexibility into its model,” per the publication. The company has expanded its smaller-format stores in recent years, along with its increasing its reliance on e-commerce.
As it stands, Wal-Mart already operates about 20 smaller-format Wal-Mart stores, each of which is about 15,000 square feet in size. The company is also testing out several 2,500 square-foot stores based on college campuses that follow the convenience-store model. The company is calling those stores “Walmart on Campus.”
Wal-Mart President and CEO Bill Simon echoed the need for smaller-format stores; “Small-store expansion,” he said, “including fresh, pharmacy, and fuel will help usher in the next-generation of retail,” according to CSPnet.com.
Wal-Mart currently has 10,942 stores in every state except Alaska, operates under seventy-one banners and in twenty-seven different countries, in addition to holding down e-commerce websites in ten countries. Fiscal year 2014 sales are reportedly more than $473 billion.