Walmart said it is doubling the number of small-format stores it expects to open in the U.S. this year to between 270 and 300 — a mix that will include Neighborhood Markets and Walmart Express locations.
Bill Simon, Walmart U.S. president and CEO, said the decision to accelerate the number of smaller units will “fuel growth as we enter the next generation of retail.”
When the company forecast capital plans for the 2015 fiscal year last October, it said it planned between 120 and 150 smaller locations. Walmart said Thursday the increase in small formats will boost capital spending in the U.S. by $600 million — to a range of $12.4 billion to $13.4 billion, compared with its earlier forecast of $11.8 billion to $12.8 billion.
“Customers’ needs and expectations are changing,” Simon said. “They want to shop when they want and how they want, and we are transforming our business to meet their expectations.”
Simon said Walmart has been working “to improve our speed-to-market and lower capital costs to allow us to move more aggressively [on small-format stores].”
He said the company’s 346 Neighborhood Markets continued to deliver consistently solid comparable sales growth of approximately 4% during the fiscal year ended Jan. 31. “They are a proven model,” he noted.
“We’re also pleased with how well the 20 Express stores are doing, and we’re expanding our pilot beyond the initial three markets. These small formats are digitally connected and provide customers convenient access to a broad assortment.”
The company said it still plans to open approximately 115 new supercenters this year.
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