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In July, 1962, Sam Walton opened his first Walmart retail store in Rogers, Ark. as a way for the people of the community to purchase affordable household goods in one store with merchandise that was made in America. Today, Walmart super centers are the largest retail stores in the U.S., with low-cost merchandise and groceries. It has become the epitome of convenience across the country, until now.
After the second-quarter reports came in last Thursday showing a decline of more than 1 percent in sales, Walmart’s U.S. CEO, Greg Foran, told reporters that the company’s fleet declined nearly 30 base points and that management is working on improving performance and standards. This is all in an attempt to meet Walmart customer satisfaction.
Because of some decline in sales in past years, Walmart’s corporate executives came up with another idea to help boost sales and expand into neighborhoods that did not have easy access to their stores, so they began construction on 500 Neighborhood Markets. A slight increase in quarterly earnings gave rise to yet another brilliant idea by Walmart executives. They wanted to corner the market in convenience stores by opening the first Walmart Express in Gentry, Ark. with a size of only 10,000 square feet, compared to the store’s 100,000 to 150,000 square foot super centers.
The new express stores will focus mainly on everyday essential items such as bathroom tissue, ready-to-eat sandwiches and many other items one might find in a 7-11 or Dollar General. Walmart is trying to compete with these smaller chains and they may just succeed.
Walmart is maintaining that it will continue to offer its customers lower prices in order to stay competitive with similar stores, and is planning to add gas stations to their “mini-marts.” This, they claim, will boost revenue for the mega store on a grand scale while helping the community, because of how easily accessible the Express stores will actually be.
So far, there are 20 Walmart Express stores across the country, including stores near Bentonville, Ark., Chicago, Ill. and Oriental, N.C., to name a few, and they all seem to be doing quite well, according to Tammy Barton, store manager for the Oriental store. “We are excited about bringing additional shopping options to our customers in this area through our smaller Express Store format,” she stated. The smaller stores offer convenience items such as fresh produce, dairy items, lunch meats, dry goods, health-and-beauty products, over-the-counter medications and a variety of other items.
In its drive to stay competitive with other convenience stores, Walmart is making its mission to offer quality, low price products to its customers while helping to bring jobs into communities that may be struggling in a down economy. Because of these new store openings, hundreds of jobs will be available to local residents, which, in turn, will help boost income for the people of these towns, as well as consumer spending. Walmart believes this is a win-win for everyone involved.
It appears as though the shopping giant is well on its way to becoming a monopoly of sorts in the retail industry. As it attempts to surpass Target in lowest prices and “supermarket only” style stores with their Neighborhood Markets, and by opening its own upscale 7-11 style convenience store and gas station, it may soon be obvious that Walmart is the leader when it comes to retail.
By Shelly Meyer