27604 Thu, 03/07/2013 - 12:43pm
ORLANDO, Fla.-Walmart is increasing its commitment to its smaller formats (less than 50,000 or 60,000 square feet) in the U.S. market, according to Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S.
Speaking at the Raymond James Institutional Investors Conference here earlier this week, Simon said the retailer will launch about 115 Walmart Express and Walmart Neighborhood Supermarkets this year, and that new-store openings of these formats will represent about 40 percent of the new store openings in the United States this year. “We’re excited about (the smaller formats) because they compete really well against multiple channels,” Simon said.
Defining them as “more hybrid stores”—rather than direct competitors with drugstores, grocery stores or dollar stores—Simon added that “they have, obviously, our low-price promise, but they all have fresh food and pharmacy, and the Walmart everyday low-price promise, they’re all enabled with dot-com capabilities, site-to store capability, so you have that endless aisle that we can offer that others might not be able to offer.”
Simon also said Walmart Express has delivered double-digit same-store sales gains in recent quarters, while the Neighborhood Market format has produced “positive comps” since its introduction in the late 1990s.
The emphasis on the smaller formats does not mean that Walmart is turning away from its Supercenter format, Simon said. “Supercenters are still a great growth vehicle for us from a dollar perspective,” he said. He added that the company is projecting 125 new Supercenters this year.