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Walmart to open or expand more than 150 stores

Walmart already has a huge U.S. footprint. But the retail giant sees room to get even bigger.

The company plans to build or convert more than 150 large-format stores over the next five years, it said Wednesday. Some of the locations will be expanded from a smaller location into a Supercenter with a full range of groceries and merchandise, but the majority will be new stores, Josh Havens, a company spokesman, said.

Walmart declined to say how much the new stores will cost and where they will be located. The company already has more than 4,600 stores across the country, and nearly 600 Sam’s Club warehouses. Sam’s Club also is in expansion mode, with plans to open more than 30 new stores in the U.S.

The big-box retailer is the largest private employer in the U.S. with about 1.6 million employees. About 90% of the U.S. population already lives with 10 miles of a Walmart store. With the expansion, Walmart is signaling that it sees its brick-and-mortar locations as a key part of the future, despite heightened competition with online players like Amazon and Shein, and its own push for growth of online sales and its third-party marketplace.

Walmart is also building on its relative strength compared with other retailers, which have taken a bigger hit from U.S. consumers pulling back on discretionary merchandise. As the nation’s largest grocer by revenue and a well-known discounter, Walmart has better weathered inflation and even attracted more upper-income households to its stores.

Its stock hit an all-time high last year, and the company on Tuesday announced a 3-for-1 stock split.

In a post on the company’s website Wednesday, Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said the retailer plans to start 12 new store projects this year and will convert one of its smaller locations into a Walmart Supercenter. The move to open or expand locations is in addition to the company’s plans to renovate other stores, he added.

Furner said the new stores will reflect Walmart’s more modern look, which it is rolling out more broadly. The “store of the future” design has a sleeker layout that emphasizes the retailer’s fashion-forward apparel brands, adds technology like scannable QR codes and features sharper signage.

New stores will also have more sustainability features, such as energy-efficient lighting, he said.

Walmart’s store expansion was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

This post appeared first on NBC NEWS

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