Walmart will add 150 stores in the United States over the next five years, a major expansion push for the retail giant.
The company said the move, announced in a statement Wednesday, would involve millions of dollars in investments. Walmart employs about 1.6 million people in the United States and says it hires hundreds of people every time it opens a new store.
Walmart had just over 4,600 stores nationwide at the end of October, down from more than 4,700 a year earlier. The company has not opened a new store in the United States since late 2021.
Most of the stores Walmart plans to open will be new construction, while others will be conversions of existing locations into new formats. The first two new stores will open in the spring, in Florida and Georgia, and the company is finalizing construction plans for 12 more stores this year. It also said it will remodel 650 locations.
Walmart announced this week that it will increase salaries and benefits for store managers and offer them scholarships.
The company reported sharply higher profits in the first three quarters of 2023, and its stock price is hovering near a record high. It has yet to report earnings for the most recent quarter, which included the holiday season.
Consumer spending, which fuels the U.S. economy, has shown resilience even as consumers have been squeezed by high inflation and rising interest rates. Credit card data for the holiday season showed that retail sales increased compared to the previous year.
“This is a huge vote of confidence in the American consumer,” Craig Johnson, the founder of retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners, said of Walmart’s announcement.
Johnson said investors may be concerned about how this could affect Walmart’s Sam’s Club stores, which have increasingly shifted from a destination for business owners to stock up on supplies to a place where people shop.
Walmart’s choice to open new stores and remodel some existing ones reflects the company’s focus on improving the in-store and pickup experience, even as e-commerce has gained popularity, said Edward Yruma, an analyst at the bank Piper Sandler investments.
“As we adapt to the new normal, what we’ve come to is the consumer likes large brick-and-mortar stores,” he said.
Jordyn Holman contributed to the reporting.