This morning’s newspaper contained a very surprising and unexpected article: Walmart announced the closing of the Walmart Neighborhood Market grocery store at 7000 Iron Bridge Road in Chesterfield County at the Watermark Town Center project.
Walmart introduced the Neighborhood Market concept in 2015. While the stores are touted as traditional “groceries only”, they typically have a drive-through pharmacy and a fuel center, but none of the other multitude of items available at a typical Walmart 182,000 square foot Supercenter location. Neighborhood Market stores are typically between 38,000 to 42,000 square feet.
The announcement included the closings of two other Neighborhood Market locations, one in Virginia Beach and one in Columbia, South Carolina, as well as a Supercenter location in Lafayette, Louisiana, and a discount store in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Iron Bridge Road Store will close by March 29, leaving three Neighborhood Markets in the Richmond metropolitan area.
What does this signal for Walmart, which slipped into the #2 spot behind Kroger in the Richmond Region last year, in the ongoing grocery wars? Walmart said that the store closing decision “is based on several factors, including the store’s overall performance”. Is the “groceries only” concept just not the right fit for Walmart?