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Wave of Walmart Closures Cuts Across the Rural, Urban Divide

January marked an unprecedented contraction for Walmart, which closed 269 stores, including all 105 of its small format Walmart Express stores.
January 31, 2016, 1pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Maria Halkias reports on the impending closure of 20 Walmart Express stores in Texas—all of the small format stores in the state, in fact. The headline of the article exclaims the failure of the retail behemoth's "rural store experiment."

Between November 2014 and February 2015, Walmart opened the Walmart Express stores in Texas as part of a pilot program to go small and put the tiny (by Walmart standards) stores in rural markets 10 to 15 miles between its Supercenters. Walmart has about 600 stores in Texas, including Sam’s Clubs.

This month, Walmart said it decided to ditch the concept, which even had miniature carts to navigate the store’s narrow aisles, and stick with its larger stores.

Halkias notes that the closures will come as a relief to mom and pop stores in some of these towns—those that weathered the competition from the Walmart stores while they existed. Other towns, however, will no longer have a grocery store.

In contrast to Halkias's coverage of the rural closures, is the national coverage of the larger announcement by Walmart earlier in January that it was closing 269 stores around the world, including 154 stores in the United States, and all 102 of its Express stores.

For coverage in the New York Times by Hiroko Tabuchi, for instance, the closures of the Express stores are an urban failure. Furthermore, Tabuchi speculates that the closures are an indication of "turmoil faced by brick-and-mortar retail across a variety of fronts. Web merchants are gobbling up a growing share of shopping dollars, their vast online catalogs rendering Walmart’s sprawling superstores increasingly less relevant. And consumers are spending less on traditional retail items like apparel."

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Published on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 in The Dallas Morning News
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