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Wal-Mart Closing 154 U.S. Stores

Wal-Mart is closing 269 of its least productive stores worldwide, including 154 locations in the U.S.

The U.S. contingent include the discounter’s entire 102-store fleet of small-format Express shops, which have remained in pilot phase for the past five years. The shops were conceived as 12,000-15,000-square-foot convenience stores that would backfill rural areas and penetrate urban markets. The initial CE mix included impulse-purchase items like batteries, blank media, prepaid phones, DVDs and players, and accessories.

Other U.S. stores marked for closure include 12 Walmart supercenters, four Sam’s Clubs and 23 Neighborhood Market supermarkets.

Wal-Mart said that more than 95 percent of the targeted stores are located within 10 miles of another company location on average, and that the impacted stores represent less than 1 percent of global square footage and revenue.

It said it plans to open over 300 stores worldwide next year with a focus on its supercenter and supermarket formats, while growing its e-commerce business and expanding on-site pickup services. Most of the new stores will be offshore, while new U.S. additions will include  50-60 supercenters, 85-95 supermarkets and seven to 10 Sam’s Clubs.

The world’s largest retailer by revenue operated 5,310 U.S. stores and 6,288 offshore locations as of Nov. 30, 2015.

Wal-Mart said stores were selected for closure on the basis of financial performance and “strategic alignment with long-term plans.” Twenty-five percent of the marked locations are overseas, with most in Brazil.

“Actively managing our portfolio of assets is essential to maintaining a healthy business,” said Wal-Mart president/CEO Doug McMillon. “Closing stores is never an easy decision, but it is necessary to keep the company strong and positioned for the future. It’s important to remember that we’ll open well more than 300 stores around the world next year. So we are committed to growing, but we are being disciplined about it.”

The announcement comes as Sears Holdings prepares fire sales at what is believed to be several dozen Kmart and Sears locations marked for closure this spring.