Wal-Mart said Friday it plans to shutter 269 stores this year, including all 102 of its small-format Express stores. The move reflects a shift in strategy in which the retailing giant will focus more on building up its e-commerce firepower and improving its massive supercenters and its grocery-centric Neighborhood Market stores.
A spokesman said the store closures would affect 16,000 jobs internationally, some 10,000 of those positions in the United States.
Even as Walmart plans to close hundreds of locations, it also intends to open more than 300 stores in the next year, including 50 to 60 supercenters in the United States and 85 to 95 Neighborhood Markets. The stores that are to be shuttered are ones that the retailer says account for less than 1 percent of global revenue.
Walmart had been testing the Express concept since 2011 as a way to reach a different kind of shopper or a different kind of shopping trip. Walmart Express stores were something of mashup between a dollar store and a small grocery, offering convenience-oriented food products but not a wide array of fresh produce or meats. The idea was that it could help Walmart capture more of shoppers' dollars on smaller "fill-in trips," when a customer isn't necessarily aiming to restock their pantry. And the store's smaller footprint was also a way to allow Walmart to shoulder into shopping centers and neighborhoods where a supercenter wouldn't fit.
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The retreat from this concept suggests the retailer did not see it getting the kind of traction in had initially hoped.
As part of this strategy, the company will not move forward with plans to build two new supercenters in the District of Columbia.
"Our experience over the last three years operating our current stores in D.C. has given us a fuller view on building and operating stores in the District," the company said in a statement. "This decision will not affect our three existing stores and we look forward to continue serving these customers in the future."
Here is a list of the stores slated to close.