Walmart reimagines its big boxes as town centers
Walmart has made a lot of upgrades in recent years that appear to reach beyond its traditional shopper base including a spate of Millennial-targeted acquisitions and a focus on augmented reality and technology incubation. Now, the chain has plans to revamp how some of its physical stores fit within their local shopping ecosystem. Walmart has begun to reimagine some of its stores and their surrounding real estate as “town centers.”
The prospective Walmart Town Centers will feature outdoor spaces, entertainment areas, local food vendors and health and fitness services, according to The Dallas Morning News. The retailer is now looking to partner with developers local to the prospective sites for the projects, which will be constructed with open access and community areas in mind.
A website — “Walmart Reimagined” — features a list of the eight different sites in eight different states that have been “reimagined” thus far. Individual location pages show concept images (not actual architectural renderings) of the layout for each store site with rudimentary information on plans for implementation and amenities to be added.
While only in the preliminary stages, the reimagining looks to be a significant departure from traditional shopping centers built around Walmart’s big box stores. More immediately, Walmart is planning store site upgrades in and around its traditional format 100,000+ square foot store locations, rather than focusing on small urban concepts such as those being developed by Target and others.
While the planned redesign of areas around Walmart’s big boxes is in keeping with its other moves toward Millennial-oriented branding, they are also in line with the movement toward walkable suburbs. A report earlier this year indicated that urban expats relocated to the suburbs are seeking city-like amenities. This has led to the creation of mixed-use developments meant to meet the needs of suburban pedestrians.
- Walmart wants to turn some stores into town centers, including 2 in North Texas – The Dallas Morning News
- Walmart Reimagined – Walmart
- Will retail be woven into the fabric of the new, walkable suburb? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is rethinking and redesigning locations as town centers a good move for the future of the Walmart? Are there any practical hurdles Walmart might face in attempting to execute its town center vision?