If You Shop at Walmart, Prepare for These Big Changes to Hundreds of Stores
GET READY FOR A DIFFERENT WALMART SHOPPING EXPERIENCE IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
Walmart shoppers have become accustomed to change, with a number of different announcements rolling out in 2022. Locations were permanently closed, new fulfillment centers were opened, and several products were pulled from shelves. Now, the company has set additional plans in motion, and major changes could be coming to a store near you. Read on to find out what Walmart has planned for the not-too-distant future.
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Walmart had a tough first quarter.
On May 17, Walmart released its lackluster quarterly earnings. Thanks to inflation, prices have hit new highs, and customers nationwide have been opting to spend on food or experiences rather than big-ticket, profit-driving items. But while the pressure is now on Walmart to get numbers up, surging prices could actually be opportune for Walmart, Robby Ohmes, retail analyst for Bank of America, told CNBC.
As Americans are counting their pennies, Walmart may have a lucky niche, with shoppers seeking out the retailer for things other than just weekly groceries. Walmart already had a strategy to drive sales to its "general merchandise" sections, and now, the retailer has confirmed concrete plans to shift customer focus.
The retailer is getting a makeover.
Walmart wants shoppers to rely on its stores for more than just the daily necessities, and it has set plans in motion to help meet that goal. Recently, the company introduced new clothing lines, as well as big-name brands, in an effort to entice customers to buy more apparel and home products. To test out new strategies to attract shoppers, the retailer opened up a redesigned SuperCenter in Springdale, Arkansas, near its corporate headquarters.
But this initial location is just the beginning. Walmart will open up 30 more of these redesigned locations by late Jan. 2023, Charles Redfield, chief merchandising officer, said (via CNBC). These locations will operate as a "test drive" before the redesign is rolled out on a wider scale—and they mean wider. According to Redfield, hundreds more of these stores are slated to be opened during the following fiscal year, incorporating well-received elements of the Arkansas store.
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The pilot store has a different look and feel.
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock
The pilot store, which is in Northwest Arkansas, has a different strategy for product layout. Aisles in the clothing section are wider and packed with fewer racks, making it easier for customers to browse. National brands like Reebok have their own space, as do Walmart's individual fashion brands and home brands, CNBC reported. Brands that speak to the younger crowd also get more space with this model, the outlet said.
Don't expect to see those large "Everyday Low Price" and "Rollback" signs we're all so used to seeing—Walmart is moving away from that approach. At the Arkansas store, smaller price signs accompany both big-brand clothing items and Walmart's "elevated clothing brands," CNBC reported.
"We're selling apparel in a grocery store, however that doesn't mean we have to sell apparel like it's grocery," Alvis Washington, vice president of marketing, store design, innovation, and experience for Walmart, said (via CNBC). "Apparel is a discretionary category. It's emotional. You want them to fall in love with the fashion."
Rather than letting the low price be the selling point, Walmart is allowing "the product to be hero," Washington said.
Also expect a different spread in the grocery aisles.
If the new SuperCenter model is introduced at your local Walmart, you can also anticipate a different feel in the grocery section. According to Redfield, the company is now targeting a "trendy millennial customer." At the Arkansas store, for example, that's exemplified by a larger selection of wines, including those that are pricier, and a millennial-friendly craft beer section.
Loyal Walmart customers don't have to worry about increasing prices, thankfully, as Walmart execs confirmed they are keeping those "entry-level price points" for those on a budget, CNBC reported. But the retailer does want to have customers coming to them for higher-margin clothes and household amenities instead of just food items—particularly as people become "more value-conscious," Redfield said.
"They were having to go somewhere else to get what they want from a style and quality standpoint, so we said, 'We've got to fix that," Redfield noted in an interview, per CNBC.
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