Wal-Mart downsizes its stores

The retail giant turns to small and midsized buildings in an effort to draw more US shoppers.

By Kim Peterson Jun 15, 2011 2:37PM
Wal-Mart (WMT) stores are about to get smaller. The new ones, anyway.

The company still runs the giant, sprawling supercenters that we're familiar with. But now it's opening more midsized stores under the Walmart Market name. They're about the size of an average supermarket.

Wal-Mart already has 185 such markets and wants to open 90 to 100 more by January. That total will ramp up to 300 by fiscal 2013, the company said.

And Wal-Mart is getting even smaller with Wal-Mart Express, its answer to the dollar stores that have been stealing its business. Wal-Mart Express stores get you in and out fast, with milk, eggs, a pharmacy, check-cashing services and gasoline pumps.

Hear what Wal-Mart executives said to reassure shareholders about its sales in the following video.

Post continues below:
All of these moves are designed to reverse a sales slump in the U.S. that has lasted for eight straight quarters. Wal-Mart has made some bad decisions in the past few years as the recession hit, and it has been desperate to reverse its momentum.

Wal-Mart shares fell more than 1% Wednesday to $52.23. Shares have spent much of the past year in the $52-$55 range.

The economic downturn sent more shoppers to dollar stores and supermarkets. Those who still went to Wal-Mart stopped buying the more profitable items, including furniture and clothing, and focused on household items and other basics.

Wal-Mart cleared out the clutter in its stores, removing items in an effort to spruce up and appeal to wealthier shoppers during the recession. But that backfired with its core base, which wanted more selection and value.

So what do you think? Will a smaller Wal-Mart bring shoppers back to the company?

504Comments
Jun 15, 2011 5:40PM
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I have to agree with most of the other people and their comments/beliefs.  Wal-Mart does not support the United States.  Their selection in the grocers area is real poor.  My family refuses to step a foot in those stores or any other that is related.  The last time I shopped there; the beef was rancid, the dairy was spoiled; and all higher priced than the local grocer.  In complete agreement with the long lines; 20-30 checkout lines and in the busiest time for shopping there is only one open; how ridiculous.  As far as I am concerned Wal-Mart can go under and it wouldn't bother me in the least.
Jun 15, 2011 5:36PM
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So many people with big wallets..Yes I welcome Wal-Mart..that is Super Centers..placing smaller versions of Wal-Mart is a waste of money unless you can place those stores in areas of low population to compete with Dollar stores..I have shopped in Dollar Stores and they are not neat, nor clean, and are poorly staffed...Try and find a knowledgeable person to help you there. I agree you get what you pay for..minimum wage employees give you just that the minimum..Do your own homework pick up what you came for and pay a little less for it. Wal-Mart you shouldn't back out of Super Centers, they are your money makers.
Jun 15, 2011 5:35PM
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You may disagree with Wal-Mart and the way they run their business but praying they fail is not the right thing to do.  That would put millions of people out of work and not everyone that works there is stupid maybe you should look at the area you live in that's probably your problem.  Your intelligence is probably on the same level. It's not that difficult to find things if you use those things you have called eyes.
Jun 15, 2011 5:34PM
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No matter what, if they don't start taking better care of the produce they offer and cater more to the customer not the management, times in the future will be bleak. There is something wrong with too much of a good thing. By that I mean, way too many Wal Mart stores. I have changed my shopping over to Kroger and Publics. They are cleaner and they are coupon friendly and have the choices offered that I can truly pick from. I don't have to hunt for help and employees know what I need and the answers to my questions. I can depend on my new choice stores to have what I'm looking for, and I don't have to worry an item has been discontinued. I can find a butcher and not pre packaged meat only. I can find a friendly face in my new choices. Too many Wal Marts do not focus on the employees being friendly to the customers. Parking is so ridiculous in the way it is set up.( at every Wal Mart, I travel so I know) Even I  have a better idea. I hate going to Wal Mart with every fiber of my being. I'm even going to change my Pharmacy. ( I love my Pharmacy people) just hate the store. I'm not looking forward to seeing express stores or down sized stores. I only go in Wal Mart when I have no other choice.
Jun 15, 2011 5:34PM
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If Wal-Mart wants to get customers back, they are really going to have to drop prices drastically.  I mean enough to get people to drive across town.  They are going to have to give back some of the money they received from us in an effort to get customers back.  They are also going to have to hire more people and give upper management training on how to handle power and how to treat employees with out being verbally abusive.  The employees are the ones who will make or break you.
Jun 15, 2011 5:32PM
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But don't you love to people watch at wal mart? I was in wm Quinlan Texas recently and was astounded by the folks shopping there. Grossly overweight tattooed (sp) women hanging over a shopping cart while eating a box of fried chicken from the deli. Hordes of filthy children running around. Uber skinny (meth heads) mullet wearing white guys shirtless with cut-off jeans for shorts with the pockets hanging lower than the unhemmed line. I swear it was like the Night of The Living Dead. Horrible is what it was...............................

Jun 15, 2011 5:31PM
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It will not matter how big or small the stores are.  They are a voracious retail monster with ignorant managers, and employees that may be rude - but as for the ungrateful part...they have little to be grateful for.  They are treated with contempt by their managers and often by the customers as well.  They do the work of three people, because the super wealthy heirs of the Wal-Mart fortune want MORE money and refuse to properly staff the stores. Sam would roll over in his grave.  There is no customer service or even regard for the customer. They are the largest Chinese Import store on the planet - and Frankly, my dear, do NOT give a damn! If they ever do anything public spirited it is for their own benefit. I would say something nice if I could think of it...oh, yes, they do hire...no wait, the new policy frowns on hiring the elderly or disabled - too expensive for the company!! sigh.
Jun 15, 2011 5:30PM
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Walmarts is probibly losing bussiness because people like myself are SICK AND TIRED of spending my hard earned money on CHINESE CRAP! I remember when Walmart first opened (when Sam Walton was alive) there were signs all over walmart claiming to be proud of products MADE IN THE USA. Now you cant find anything in there MADE IN THE USA. And thats why they have lost my bussiness. And I hope other people are tired of it too!!!
Jun 15, 2011 5:29PM
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like the economy? keep buying at wallmart.
Jun 15, 2011 5:27PM
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They can't scale their business without losing the economies that make it possible. They will put themselves out of business in the name of having it all - LOL

Jun 15, 2011 5:26PM
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A terrible company I will not support. I about threw up the last time I was in a store as it was awful smelling.

Jun 15, 2011 5:24PM
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They should rename it Chinamart.  Items with a label  "Made in the USA" does not exist at Wall Mart! It used to be in Wall Mart's slogan. "Hobby Lobby is another store that has been "chinanized"  The store we had here was just a regular Wall Mart.  They remolded it and made it a Super Center.  (there is nothing Super about it.  The variety of products offered  was cut or not stocked any more. I guess they had to cut their merchandise,  in order to have a groceries  Not many things are made in the USA anymore.  Most clothing carried in stores now is made in a foreign country and that includes your designer and name brand clothes. 
Jun 15, 2011 5:24PM
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Walmarts entire business model is based on cheap labor and cheap oil. Without one or the other, they will fail. The age of cheap oil is over and it will be WalMarts demise before the decade is out.

They are morons pawning junk affluence.

Jun 15, 2011 5:24PM
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They are horrible to work for and besides the not so cheap products and low quality produce that I am sick of, I am sick of waiting in LONG lines because they continue to cut back on staff. Who needs them when I can shop on line with Amazon.com or go to my neighbor grocers and catch their sales w/coupons.  Wal Mart...one evil retail giant.
Jun 15, 2011 5:22PM
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My family has stopped shopping at Wal Mart (W/M) on purpose and intentionally.  They have the white star from the China Flag on the front of the store that carries a tremendous amount of "Made in China" products instead of the loco (the asterisk) found on W/M hats and shirts.  We are now doing most of our shopping for produce, jams, jellies at Farmers Markets.  Fruit and vegetable stands help out and are generally cheaper than W/M. Dog and cat food is much cheaper at Tractor supply and Farmers CO-OPs.  The discount supermarkets handle the rest and we are saving close to $125-$150 per month on our grocery bill and we are not using coupons any more or less.  W/M screwed the Mom & Pops and now the Moms & Dads are being more resourceful.  W/M should leave my community.
Jun 15, 2011 5:22PM
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The size of the store is not the issue.  The problem with Wal-Mart is losing sight of Sam's values. 

 

The first one is treating their employees fairly and paying them a living wage.  I worked for Wal*Mart back in the 90s.  I was shocked to discover that Wal*Mart is starting their cashiers out at the same wage they started at back then.  This would also help with their customer service issues.  Happy workers are more likely to be pleasant and want to go further to help their customers. 

 

The next thing is go back to selling only merchandise made in the USA.  That would bring a lot of customers back and put people back to work so they might buy more.  Most Americans would rather buy goods made here than in a foreign country. 

 

Finally bring back the variety of merchandise they once had.  Wal Mart has quit selling things people want.  Of course, we can buy these things elsewhere.  While we are in the other store we see things we could have bought at Wal*Mart.  Why go to Wal*Mart when we can get it where we are?  Even if this other store does not have everything we need, it is highly likely it is near a store that does. 

 

Hmmm, drive across town to Wal*Mart or across the parking lot.   Come to think of it I haven't been to Wal*Mart in months. 

Jun 15, 2011 5:20PM
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Walmart fails in Customer service.  Number one who wants to stand in line 40 minutes to get checked out. Two who wants to walk all over a huge store to get what you need. Example meat on one side of the store and If you need charcoal to grill you have to go to Garden center on the opposite side of the store. Third you can never find a Manager or get one to the service desk. If you have a problem the service employee will call one, but it may be 20 minutes before they come If at all. Number four Walmart produce is priced out of sight. I can buy apples, lettuce, potatoes, etc. at a small local store here about fifty percent cheaper. Five you can never find help in most Walmart stores and when you do they never have an answer to your question or know where items in the store are. Six some of the stores are poorly stocked and have hundreds of outs this due to Store Managers cutting labor as much as they can worrking with a crew as many as 70 people less than authorized to make sure they get their bonus. Seven Walmart no longer has fresh meat all shipped in with additives and you can't get anything sliced, etc. You only save money at Walmart on dry groceries, frozen food, and some dairy items. You can match their meat and produce prices almost anywhere.

Jun 15, 2011 5:18PM
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Actually, recenlty I did get a couple items that amazingly said 'USA' on them......I mentioned it to my husband and he too was surprised..........maybe this is the beginning of better things from WalMart.....I wondered for a long time how come they couldn't at least put some items that were from our own country in the stores because they had things mostly from China, or Phillipines or Taiwan, etal. What happened when they were first starting their super stores is that they could make such good deals, likely still can, with China etal, it encouraged them to use only those countries. But things are changing and hopefully they will get more and more from the United States.
Jun 15, 2011 5:16PM
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I guess they are making enough money, because upper management does not care. I emailed their CEO, Michael Duke about problems and he didnot even have one of his staff email me back. Their customer service out and out lies to people. They basically read from a script and do nothing to help customers.

 

Because of this, they lost $500 in sales from me last weekend. I shopped at Target, Sears and a coulpe of other stores, rather than accept bad customer service, lying customer service agents and upper managements obvious disdain for fixing problems.

 

They could open a store, small and/or large, within walking distance of my home and I would not shop there any longer.

Jun 15, 2011 5:16PM
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If Walmart wants to increase their bottom line again, they need to concentrate on keeping their store shelves stocked properly and firing their ungrateful, rude employees. Opening more stores and making them a little different isn't going to do it.
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