A larger percentage of stores Walmart is closing are in rural TX and other more rural locations. Most Supercenters aren't going to be touched. A lot of their experimental "Express" stores and a few "Neighborhood Market" stores will be the greater portion of the stores closing in the U.S. I haven t been to an "Express" Walmart, but I have visited a few of their "Neighborhood Markets". They are what I call "impersonal". Dark cement flooring, halogen lighting. Nothing that would inspire one to want to throw a backyard grill party, or have a few friends over for potluck and a game Hearts or such. Prices still higher on meat than the supermarket I've traded with for years. Enough on Walmart's impersonal approach to marketing.
It seems to me targeting mainly the "Express" stores and a few of their "Neighborhood Markets" has more to do with the price of oil, which many economist are predicting will fall to the mid to high twenties over the next 2 or 3 years. Cheaper gas prices means more mobility for the average shopper in rural areas. Why use an Express store when you can travel to a one stop shopping Super Store?
The declining oil prices will strengthen the value of U.S. dollar value. Which in turn will affect exports negatively. The higher value of the dollar crimps the purchasing power of other countries to buy U.S. products, at the same time making imports more affordable. Which means nothing unless U.S. wages are increased to a point low waged workers can buy those imports. Even with fuel costing less to get people to and from their jobs, and lowering the cost of products transported to the super market shelves, people still have to pay their auto and home debts. Reduced transportation cost can't offset stagnant wages enough in low paying jobs for low end consumers to feel they can afford to spend anything extra on something they would like to have, but don't really 'need'.
In sum Walmart is closing less than 1% of it's stores globally. Mainly because their 'Express' stores can't be as profitable as their Super Centers. Essentially offering fewer products, same overhead expense with 'competive pricing' doesn't work well unless you can move volume. In other words a failled experiment that I doubt Sam Walton would have ever approved.
I'm hoping Aldi's will take this opportunity to open some stores in those rural areas Walmart is closing stores in, that have enough traffic to support a basic market for limited competively priced staples.
Time & Tide Changes Everything