Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Business / Technology


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published Friday, June 3, 2011 at 5:47 PM

Share:        
Comments (0)     E-mail E-mail article      Print Print     

Wal-Mart unveils ministores near dollar rivals

Wal-Mart Stores this week unveiled its first Walmart Express, its answer to the growing threat of dollar stores which have been successfully maneuvering the post-recession economy.

The Associated Press

No comments have been posted to this article.
Start the conversation >

advertising

GENTRY, Ark. — The Walmart of the future could very well be the size of your local drugstore.

Wal-Mart Stores this week unveiled its first Walmart Express, its answer to the growing threat of dollar stores which have been successfully maneuvering the post-recession economy.

The 15,000-square-foot store, one-tenth the size of a Walmart superstore, aims to carry everything you might need on the spur of the moment, from milk and eggs to DVDs.

Just not everything under the sun like its big cousin. Walmart Express is sized to fit into cities where space is at a premium and in rural areas that can't support a superstore.

Dollar stores have enjoyed strong revenue growth as they've lured more shoppers with bargain prices and wider selections. Meanwhile, U.S. Walmart stores open at least a year have posted declines in revenue for eight straight quarters.

Dollar-store chains also have quickly expanded, opening stores closer to customers' homes, an advantage in era of high gas prices.

Already, the average round trip to a dollar store is six miles, compared with 30 miles for a typical Walmart trip, Credit Suisse analyst Michael Exstein estimates.

The new Walmart Express, located in rural Gentry, Ark., about a half-mile away from a Dollar General location, is one of 20 small stores that Wal-Mart expects to open by the end of January. The long, narrow concrete box topped with a powder-blue Walmart Express sign is aimed at customers who've run out of milk or just need to pick up a movie.

A second Walmart Express test store will open Wednesday about 30 miles away in Prairie Grove, Ark., and another will launch in Ridgefield, N.C., a week later. The company also is experimenting with a prototype for urban markets in Chicago, to open this summer.

"This is about access to breadth of assortment" and everyday low prices, said Anthony Hucker, vice president of the strategy and business-development division, which is spearheading the new format.

Hucker emphasized Thursday that Wal-Mart is still testing out the format. Most Walmart Express locations will have a pharmacy. Some, like the store in Prairie Grove, will sell gasoline. All stores will offer check-cashing services and accept food stamps.

For ease of shopping, some related general merchandise was featured alongside groceries. For example, tea kettles and toasters were in the bread and tea and coffee aisle. Shoppers can find prepaid phones and greeting cards.

Analysts will be carefully monitoring how the fight unfolds in Gentry, whose population of a little over 3,000 is about a 16-mile round trip to the nearest Wal-Mart supercenter in Siloam Springs, Ark.

Wal-Mart is looking to customers to tell it what the small stores should carry. Signs throughout the store feature "If you want it, we'll get it."

Customers will be able to order an item on walmart.com and have it delivered to the store through the company's "Site to Store" service.

Share:        
Comments (0)     E-mail E-mail article      Print Print     

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon




Advertising