- Wal-Mart Stores plans to close 269 stores worldwide following a review of its portfolio, the retailer announced in a release on Friday.
- In the U.S., Wal-Mart will shutter 154 locations and end its 'Walmart Express' pilot, which first began in 2011, with plans to close all 102 of its smallest format stores.
- Wal-Mart said it will instead turn its focus in the U.S. to boosting its Supercenters, fine-tuning its Neighborhood Markets, growing its e-commerce operations, and expanding in-store pickup.
Wal-Mart's massive store portfolio -- which includes over 11,000 stores around the world -- is getting a trim, but it may not last long as the retailer plans to open a nearly equivalent amount of new stores in the coming fiscal year. Wal-Mart said it plans to open 200-240 more stores in the 2017 fiscal year (which starts on February 1), including 50-60 Supercenters and 85-95 Neighborhood Markets in the U.S.
The news comes as Wal-Mart finds itself at a cross-roads, pressured by shifting shopping habits away from physical store locations and towards e-commerce. As it looks to grow its e-commerce operations and appeal to larger customer base, Wal-Mart faces the challenge of deciding which parts of its business to keep, and which to do away with.
Beyond the closings, the most notable news to come out of today's announcement is that the retail giant is ending its Walmart Express experiment. The retailer's smallest format stores have been in pilot since 2011, and were targeted at urban markets. The stores were part of a small-store expansion strategy that Wal-Mart announced in early 2014, but was killed off later that year as the retailer aimed to streamline its offerings. The Walmart Express format was to be rebranded as Neighborhood Markets, another small store format that the retailer was testing.