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Walmart To Open More U.S. Convenience Stores

After testing the convenience store model for two years, Walmart has opened a new Walmart Fuel Station store in Plano, Texas. The store reportedly opened last week and resembles two similar formats that were tested early last year in Crowley, Texas, and Rogers, Arkansas.

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The convenience stores are in large Walmart Supercenter parking lots and come fit with gas fuel pumps. Patrons can purchase quick items like sandwiches, ready-made hot dogs, coffee and snacks from the small-format outlets, which tend to be less than 3K SF. The new Plano store is 2,900 SF, Walmart spokesperson Anne Hatfield told Retail Dive.

"It is another way Walmart is offering our customers choice and convenience that save them time," she said. 

Walmart’s foray into the convenience store business comes after it shut down all 269 of its small-format, 12K SF Walmart Express stores in 2016. The retailer plans to open three additional Fuel Station concepts in the Dallas-Forth Worth area by year’s end, Hatfield said.

Walmart is not the only major retailer taking new approaches to reach customers. Target is adding more small-format stores in cities, and Kohl's has reduced its in-store merchandise and partnered with discount grocer Aldi.

Amazon, after launching its cashierless grocery store concept Amazon Go in January, plans to add an additional six stores to its portfolio this year, namely in Seattle and Los Angeles. The grocery store is roughly about 1,800 SF and carries ready-to-go breakfast, lunch and dinner options, a selection of groceries and chef-designed Amazon Meal Kits. Using an app, customers are able to walk into a store, grab items off the shelves and leave without going through a checkout line. Tech powered by machine learning algorithms tracks products and charges shoppers’ accounts when they leave the store.