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Brick and Mortar’s Big Comeback

Walmart is investing $9B-plus in store remodels
Gina Acosta, Progressive Grocer
Walmart Remodeling - Pet dept.
In Walmart’s pets area, customers can scan the QR code to find additional dog bed options, learn about Walmart’s pet insurance service options or have a 20-pound bag of kibble delivered to their door.

Now that inflation has eased, supply disruptions have moderated and (some) operational costs are starting to decrease, many food retailers are looking to things like robots, generative AI and retail media to boost margins.

But the nation’s largest grocer has some other ideas.

Walmart is betting that the American grocery shopper’s preference for personal contact with products in-store will not only persist, but also persevere.

The retailer recently celebrated the largest single-day rollout of re-grand openings in company history. The re-grand opening projects represent more than half a billion dollars in capital investments in local communities across 30 states. Associates and customers were welcomed into the improved Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets with ceremonies, ribbon cuttings and family-friendly activities to commemorate the occasions.

“We’re investing more than $9 billion over a two-year period to upgrade and modernize more than 1,400 of our stores across the U.S.,” said John Furner, CEO of Walmart U.S. “With nearly 90% of the U.S. population living within 10 miles of a Walmart, we understand how important our local stores are to customers and communities, and these construction investments allow us to create more local jobs and make it easier for our associates to get customers what they want, when they want it.”

Each store’s reopening is part of Walmart’s Signature Experience, which seeks to inspire customers and provide them with a seamless, high-quality shopping experience. Upgraded features include improved layouts, expanded product selections, and innovative technology that allows Walmart associates to better support customers and make shopping more convenient and enjoyable.

Customers shopping enhanced stores can expect to see:

  • A refreshed interior and exterior: New paint, updated flooring throughout the store, modernized restrooms, and new fixtures and LED lighting for better and brighter line of sight throughout the store.
  • New signage allowing for easier navigation while shopping in-store and using the Walmart App. 
  • More shopping carts in each store for customer convenience.
  • Front end transformation: Increased checkout options, including staffed lanes and self-checkout areas.
  • Larger online grocery pickup and delivery areas to accommodate growing demand and to serve more customers shopping online.
  • New grab-and-go sections being added to grocery areas for quick meal and drink options.
  • New digital touchpoints located throughout the store help communicate the range of products and services offered online through QR codes and digital screens. For example, in Walmart’s pets area, customers may scan the QR code to find additional dog bed options, learn about Walmart’s pet insurance service options or have a 20-pound bag of kibble delivered to their door.
  • For easier customer access, many pharmacies have been moved to the front of the store and have also been expanded to allow for new private screening rooms for pharmacist consultations and services.
  • A new Dollar Shop at store entrances, with seasonally relevant products.

Walmart plans to continue modernizing its stores across the country in 2024.

Earlier this year, while I was in Bentonville, Ark., for the Walmart Shareholders Meeting, I stopped at a local Walmart for a tour of some of these new features. I was especially impressed with a new Express Lane for Walmart+ members.

Walmart today owns 25.2% of all grocery dollars in the United States, up about 1.5 percentage points since 2021. That share is poised to keep growing, as the Walmart customer value prop has never been stronger. 

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