Walmart tests no-frills format

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — The new Walmart Express concept is a further downsizing of Walmart’s supercenter and Neighborhood Market format, 
recently rebranded as Walmart Mart. The 15,000-sq.-ft. stores are no-frills affairs with bare concrete floors and open-rafter ceilings. From a shoppers’ perspective, the store experience is consistent with the look and feel of a supercenter — only smaller. 

The merchandise mix is heavily oriented toward food and consumables, with typical Walmart departments like apparel and sporting goods missing. To broaden its assortment, there is an emphasis on Walmart’s Site-to-Store service, where it ships merchandise ordered online to stores for free. The jury is still out on the format’s potential impact on pharmacy, as the location in Gentry, Ark., contains a pharmacy, but another test location further south in the community of Prairie Grove does not. 

The format opened in rural Arkansas communities in early June and in Chicago food desert neighborhoods later that month. Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., downplayed any expansion plans, stating that the supercenter would remain the mass merchant’s best vehicle for growth.

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