As Wal-Mart revamps its store approach, the retailer is also changing the operations of its gas stations.
While the 1,100 gas stations run by its partner, Murphy USA, plus another 60 already in the works, will continue to be run by Murphy, new stations planned around more Wal-Mart stores nationwide will be run by and branded as Wal-Mart stations.
Murphy has run gas stations at many Wal-Mart locations for two decades, while some stations are already run by Wal-Mart or its Sam’s Club unit.
This move is part of Wal-Mart's move to boost the number of gas stations at its retail locations, branding them as Wal-Mart to give customers a more consistent experience, spokesman Randy Hargrove told CNBC. It’s also aimed at driving more sales, not just from fuel but also the add-ons like cigarettes and other common convenient store purchases, Hargrove told CNBC.
Sales these days are falling at gas stations thanks to record-low fuel prices. But Wal-Mart appears to be aiming for sales beyond gas fill-ups. (Plus, gas prices are unlikely to stay low forever.)
This move is another curious shift in Wal-Mart’s store strategy as it plans to close 269 stores worldwide, including 154 in the U.S. and all of its Walmart Express stores, but open another 300—including 142 to 165 in the U.S.
A review of stores—and a shift in strategy that entails opening and closing stores—is hardly a revolutionary move in retail. But this one doesn’t appear to move the needle on CEO Doug McMillon’s stated goal of reaching a more wealthy consumer. However, it does boost the company's long-standing approach of grabbing more wallet share from those in its existing customer base.