Monday, September 10, 2012

Walmart: Express stores 'filling gap' in rural areas

Walmart started a new line of stores last year to infiltrate the urban market, but they are having an impact in rural areas, too. They're called Walmart Express, and they've been popping up in at least three states: North Carolina, Arkansas and Illinois. The company says they are designed to compete with dollar stores, which dominate the convenience and low-price market in rural areas.

Walmart Express stores average about one-tenth the size of a Walmart Supercenter, and manager of Walmart Express in Snow Hill, N.C., told Leoneda Inge of WUNC in June that the small size allows associates to have relationships with all their customers. The IGA grocery store across the street has been closed for years, and the nearest Supercenter is at least 15 miles away in Kinston. Inge reported that the Express stores are "basically grocery stores, with a pharmacy and a few extras."

Walmart Regional Vice President Ronny Hayes told Inge there's a void to fill in rural communities that are 20 or more miles away from a Supercenter. "We see this as an opportunity to come into this community and offer them, not only affordable but healthy food options and let's face it today, with the gas prices and everything else, our customers are going to appreciate that." (Read more)

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