As seemingly endless news about store closures seem to hang around, even in early 2024, one retailer is going in the opposite direction and actually opening more.
Walmart (WMT) – Get Free Report is famously known as the world’s top retailer, and in the U.S. it reigns supreme. It has at least one location within 10 miles of 90% of the population, but it isn’t stopping there.
It hasn’t been an entirely easy road. Walmart closed 24 stores in 2023, citing varying reasons — though most of them were financial and loss or shrink-related.
“These stores lose tens of millions of dollars a year, and their annual losses nearly doubled in just the last five years,” Walmart said in a press release, adding, “We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the city [of Chicago]… It was hoped that these investments would help improve our stores’ performance. Unfortunately, these efforts have not materially improved the fundamental business challenges our stores are facing.”
Walmart had originally anticipated to close just 15 stores in 2023, but with inventory shrink on the rise and city resilience being tested, it ended up with more. Closures were all over the country, ultimately happening in 14 states and Washington, D.C. Illinois was hit the hardest with eight closures; four stores closed in Chicago.
Walmart makes a store change announcement
But in the weeks since 2023 has closed, Walmart has been making big moves. It has spent $9 billion to renovate and upgrade many of its stores, and on Wednesday the retailer announced it would open 150 new stores — either renovated or completely from scratch — over the next five years.
An employee prices items in the arts and crafts supply aisle of a Walmart store.
“In the next five years, Walmart is planning to build or convert more than 150 stores, while simultaneously continuing our program to remodel existing stores. These efforts represent millions of dollars in capital investment of labor, supplies and tax revenue, which benefit their respective communities. And they’ll help us reach and serve even more customers,” Walmart CEO John Furner wrote.
Two of the new stores will open quickly this spring: one in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. and the other in Atlanta.
Some of the new store features will include:
Increased sustainabilityEnergy efficient lightingLow impact refrigeratorsFast-charging electric vehicle stationsImproved layoutsMore selectionIn-store technology for product assistance and information
“During the next 12 months, we plan to remodel 650 stores across 47 states and Puerto Rico — creating tens of thousands of jobs supporting these projects. That’s in addition to the hundreds of jobs we’ll bring to a community each time we open a new store. And those jobs come with amazing perks, like tuition-free college starting on day one, or flexible scheduling and competitive paid time off,” Furner continued.
Walmart says the remodels will be a part of its “Store of the Future” concept, which will “feature new paint, new signs and more shopping carts, creating a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.”
Walmart will also move many of its pharmacy locations closer to the entrance for ease of access and its vision centers will get upgrades, too.