Walmart to build or convert 150-plus stores in next 5 years. It hasn’t opened new stores in 3 years

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart said Wednesday it plans to build or convert more than 150 stores in the next five years, while remodeling existing stores.

The plan marks a big change for the discounter. In 2016, Walmart said it was slowing new store openings and instead investing in its online efforts, technology and store remodels as it aimed to be more competitive with Amazon. A company spokeswoman said the discounter hadn’t opened a new store since November 2021.

Walmart operates roughly 4,700 U.S locations, including about 600 Sam’s Club sites.

The news comes as the Bentonville, Arkansas-based chain, like many other retailers, is relying more on its physical stores to fulfill online orders and use them as online pickup locations.

In a memo shared with The Associated Press, John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart’s U.S. division, said that the first two new stores under this initiative, both Neighborhood Markets, are set to open later this spring in Atlanta and Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. It’s also finalizing construction plans on 12 new store projects to start this year, along with converting one of its smaller locations to a Walmart Supercenter. Supercenters run about 180,000 square feet and sell everything from oranges to clothing to TV sets.

“These efforts represent millions of dollars in capital investment of labor, supplies and tax revenue, which benefit their respective communities,” Furner said. “And they’ll help us reach and serve even more customers. ”

Over the next 12 months, the nation’s largest retailer plans to remodel 650 stores across 47 states and Puerto Rico.

Its new and remodeled stores will reflect Walmart’s new concept, featuring improved layouts, expanded product selections and new technology to help workers better help customers and make shopping more convenient, the company said.

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