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Mega Discounter Is Thinking Small: Wal-Mart to Open More, Smaller Stores in 2013

Wal-Mart’s CEO says the discount retailer will focus less on Supercenters, and more on the development of smaller-format stores in 2013–a surprise, considering the company’s plan to open 125 new Supercenters this year.

At an investor meeting last week, CEO Bill Simon told investors that Wal-Mart is “trying to do more with less” by opening 115 smaller stores (dubbed “Neighborhood Markets” or “Walmart Express” stores) alongside the 125 Supercenters, in 2013. Unlike Supercenters, the smaller-format stores can occupy more densely packed urban real estate, and Simon said many stores will have “dot-com capabilities”–meaning that shoppers can pick up their online orders in-store.

“We’re trying to become more efficient in the use of capital,” Simon said. “So the square footage will roughly stay the same, but you’ll see more doors open, because we’re going to be opening smaller stores instead of Supercenters.”

As far as financial growth, however, Wal-Mart can only hope to stay the course–last year, the company saw U.S. growth of $10 billion in sales, comparable in-store sales increases of 1.8%, and total sales of $275 billion.