BENTONVILLE, Ark. – “Weaker customer traffic patterns and impatient consumer behaviors” are the catalyst for Walmart to test a convenience store concept in one of the busiest intersections of its hometown in Arkansas, reports The City Wire.
“The store will offer customers a quick and easy solution for gas, snacks and beverages, and other staples like milk, bread and eggs. We know this type of convenience store is popular with customers. We’re excited about the opportunity to test a new store and learn,” Walmart spokeswoman Deisha Barnett told The City Wire. The new convenience store, which will open in the spring 2014, will also sell fuel.
So what does Walmart have to gain by opening a convenience store? According to Carol Spieckerman, CEO of New Market Builders, the retailer stands to gain a new customer base.
“Given Walmart’s highly-developed supply chain, particularly in fresh, it will go in with a huge advantage. This is particularly true as convenience stores evolve from selling beef jerky, cigarettes and hot dogs on metal rollers and into becoming destinations for healthy snacks and meal occasions,” she told The City Wire.
Jason Long, CEO of Shift Marketing Group, told the news source that testing a c-store concept signals to Wall Street that Walmart is working to turn its recently “sales woes” around. “It could also be a competitive signal to current and would-be competitors that Walmart isn’t going to blindly stand by and concede sales to smaller stores any longer,” he added.
Meanwhile, opening its first convenience store in its own backyard — a clearly established marketplace for Walmart — could be a move that’s too safe. Long commented to the news source that having just the one store in Bentonville could skew the results of the store as positive, noting that Walmart would need to test the c-store concept in other markets to gain a more accurate picture of store performance.
According to Barnett, Walmart has no plans to open additional convenience stores at this time.