Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Walmart's Four 'Marketside by Walmart' Stores Set to Be Closed Soon Never Came Close to Weekly Sales of $100,000

Arizona Market Region Report - News & Analysis

In a September 9, 2010 story - Walmart Plans to Close Arizona 'marketside by Walmart' Stores, Dump Format By Year-End or Early 2011 - we broke the news Walmart Stores, Inc. would be dumping its 'marketside by Walmart' small-store fresh food and grocery format, including closing the four existing stores in Arizona.

We followed the September 9 story up with a piece on September 23 - Revisting 'marketside by Walmart': Format As We Know it On the Way Out But Some or All Of the Four Stores Could Be Converted - in which we reported Walmart was discussing potentially converting some or all of the 'marketside by Walmart' stores into a different small-format, most likely the version of its 20,000 square-foot 'Neighborhood Market by Walmart' prototype it plans to roll out to the tune of about 30-40 stores in 2011. [See - October 13, 2010: Simon Says: Walmart U.S. CEO Outlines Smaller Store Strategy and Plans; Walmart to Offer Groceries Online in USA]

The reason for the follow-up story in late September was because not only has 'marketside by Walmart' been neglected for over a year by Walmart Stores, Inc. - for example one of the managers of the four stores in Arizona is and has been running two units at the same time since early this year - but a decision as to whether or not to close all the stores or try to salvage one or more by converting to the new small-format the retailer plans to roll out next year has been up in the air.

On Wednesday, October 13, Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon confirmed half of our early September 2010 report at the retailer's annual investment community conference, saying the Walmart Stores' does not plan to expand 'marketside by Walmart' beyond the current four stores, commenting the retailer has learned a great deal from the stores and has been able to create a multi-million dollar fresh foods brand, 'marketside,' which it's selling in its Walmart supercenters and Neighborhood Market supermarkets, based on operating the stores. Simon didn't announce plans to close any of the stores or convert them to another small store format at the conference however.

It was the first time a Walmart Stores' executive has said publicly that the retailer would cease any further development of 'marketside by Walmart.' Earlier this year Walmart said publicly it wouldn't open any additional 'marketside by Walmart' stores this year - but did not say it wouldn't do so beyond 2010.

Based on the information we have at present, it's remains most probable Walmart will close all four of the Arizona 'marketside by Walmart' stores by the end of December and no later than the end of January 2011 or convert some or all of the four stores into a new small-format.

Average Weekly Sales: 'marketside by Walmart' Stores

None of the four 'marketside by Walmart' stores have or are doing even close to $100,000 in weekly sales, according to our excellent sources. The four metro Phoenix area stores are located in Gilbert, Tempe, Mesa and Chandler, Arizona. All four stores opened in May 2008.

The Gilbert unit has been doing the best of the four, averaging about $68,000 a week in sales, our sources say.

The other three metro Phoenix 'marketside by Walmart' units are all doing below $50,000 a week in sales, our sources say.

They estimate the Chandler, Arizona store is averaging $48,000-$49,000 in weekly sales; the Mesa unit $33,000-$35,000; and the Tempe store about $40,000 weekly.

Two of the stores are in the 15,000 square-foot range. The other two are between 16,000-18,000 square-feet. According to the most current FMI (Food Marketing Institute) statistics, the average U.S. supermarket has sales-per-square-foot of $11.35. All four stores have been and are doing way below the $11.35 per-square-foot industry average.

In our analysis, these average weekly sales numbers make it unlikely that Walmart will put a different small-store format in any of the current four 'marketside by Walmart' stores when it closes them at the end of this year or in early 2011, although the retailer may believe a different format can make a go of it at the locations.

We'll have more for you very soon. Stay tuned.

'Marketside by Walmart' - Follow the Story Below

>December 21, 2009: Wither Walmart's Small-Format 'marketside' Stores and Format?

>January 9, 2010: Walmart's 'marketside': What's 'In-Store' for 2010?

>September 9, 2010: Walmart Plans to Close Arizona 'marketside by Walmart' Stores, Dump Format By Year-End or Early 2011

>September 23, 2010: Revisting 'marketside by Walmart': Format As We Know it On the Way Out But Some or All Of the Four Stores Could Be Converted

>July 6, 2010: Walmart Looking for Store Sites in Northern California For 20,000 Sq-Ft Neighborhood Market by Walmart Prototype Store

[For a selection of additional past stories on Walmart's 'marketside' and 'marketside by Walmart' click here and here.]

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