Walmart is seeing strong results from its small stores as it ramps up its rollout of new formats.

Walmart, Bill Simon, Walmart U.S., annual meeting, small stores, new formats, Neighborhood Markets, Walmart Express, Doug McMillon, pharmacies, drug stores, mobile, e-commerce, digital retail, Neil Ashe

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Walmart U.S. chief upbeat on small stores

June 9th, 2014

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Walmart is seeing strong results from its small stores as it ramps up its rollout of new formats.

"Neighborhood Markets and Walmart Express stores have been a big hit, providing fast, easy access whenever and however customers want it," said Walmart U.S. president and chief executive officer Bill Simon said Friday at the Walmart annual shareholders meeting here.

Neighborhood Markets delivered a 5% same-store sales increase last quarter, and the retailer is building up to 200 more this year, according to Simon. "So you can see why we are so excited about this format," he added.

The smaller Walmart Express format is fast becoming a customer favorite "because of its easy access, and it is a favorite of ours because of its sales growth," Simon said. "We'll add 80 to 100 this year."

In a first for Walmart, the company plans to open more small stores than Supercenters this fiscal year. The retailer believes that the small boxes offer a chance to wring more growth out of mature markets by taking sales away from drug stores, dollar stores and ­supermarkets.

The Neighborhood Market stores, all of which have pharmacies, average nearly 40,000 square feet and offer fresh produce, meat and dairy products, bakery and deli items, household supplies, and health and beauty aids. The Express stores, not all of which currently have pharmacies, run around 15,000 square feet and carry groceries and general merchandise.

At the annual meeting, Walmart executives also noted that the new stores will all be digitally connected.

Emphasizing technology, Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon said consumers want "the excitement and the immediacy of shopping in a physical store and the freedom to shop whenever, however and wherever they want. They want an experience that seamlessly adapts to their life. Walmart can bring together our stores with new digital commerce capabilities to help customers save money, save time, and have access to what they want and need."

McMillion noted that "mobile has changed everything," adding that Walmart gets more e-commerce traffic in the United States from mobile devices than from personal computers. "And, increasingly, our customers will do their grocery shopping on their phone or tablet in their spare time, not during their precious family time. We' re going to make that possible."

The discount store retailer also will continue to add services and pickup points to become more convenient, he said, while promising to enhance its traditional e-commerce offering of online ordering and home delivery.

Neil Ashe, president and CEO of Walmart global e-commerce, pointed to the strong growth of e-commerce sales and how Walmart is blending brick-and-mortar and digital retailing.

"We are integrating digital retail and physical retail to create one seamless, customer-driven Walmart experience," Ashe said.

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