• 09.01.20

    Newsday: Walmart completes second Long Island supercenter, plans a third

The world’s largest retailer has finished converting its Farmingdale store to a supercenter – with a new grocery store and a building expansion that added about 40% more square feet.

Walmart’s remodeling of the 13-year-old store, at 965 Broadhollow Rd., is part of the discount retailer’s efforts to focus on operating one-stop shopping sites  that complement online sales.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based chain, which has only one other supercenter among its 12 Walmarts on Long Island, is aiming to get a bigger piece of the grocery market on the Island, where Stop & Shop’s 51 supermarkets dominate.

“This expansion of our Farmingdale store brings dramatic benefits to the entire local community – which is particularly exciting during these challenging times,” store manager Said Hasan said in a statement Monday. “By increasing our grocery offerings and incorporating the latest innovations, we’ve made shopping even more convenient for our customers. And the entire area benefits from the hundreds of jobs we’ve created.”

Originally opened in 2007, the Farmingdale store already had auto care, photo and vision centers, as well as a pharmacy, store pickup for online orders and a Subway restaurant. With a building addition of about 62,000 square feet, the supercenter is now 205,000 square feet, a Walmart spokesman said.

New features include a grocery store with a full-service deli and bakery; online grocery pickup, in which food bought on the Walmart website is placed by employees in customers’ cars, and express delivery of merchandise to consumers’ homes in less than two hours, according to Walmart.

The store also has a new pickup tower.  The 16-foot tower, which has been described as being similar to a vending machine, is used by customers who opt to have items they buy from delivered to stores. Customers can retrieve their purchases at the tower by scanning the bar codes sent to their smartphones, without ever having to interact with store employees.

The remodeled store added 250 new employees, bringing the total to about 500, the Walmart spokesman said.

Walmart supercenters are set up to be one-stop shopping destinations that include supermarkets and specialty shops, such as nail and hair salons, fast-food restaurants and vision centers.

Supercenters on average are larger than regular Walmarts — 178,000 square feet compared to 105,000 square feet.

Most supercenters are open 24 hours a day under normal circumstances.  But during the COVID-19 pandemic, all Walmart stores are operating from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Of the 12 Walmarts on Long Island, the only other supercenter is in Valley Stream.  The only Sam’s Club on the Island is in Medford.

Walmart is the largest grocer in the country — it gets more than half its revenue from groceries — but the retailer doesn’t even crack the top 10 among supermarkets on Long Island.

It is looking to change its local fortunes.

In addition to the Farmingdale supercenter conversion, Walmart is planning to build a new supercenter in Yaphank, at the residential and retail complex called The Boulevard that is under development on William Floyd Parkway just north of the Long Island Expressway at Exit 68N.

The store will open by summer or fall next year, the Walmart spokesman said.

Walmart was founded in 1962 in Arkansas but its first supercenter didn’t open until 1988, in Washington, Missouri.

Now, among Walmart Inc.’s 5,353 retail locations in the United States, including Sam’s Club warehouse stores, 67% are supercenters, according to the company’s website.

Walmart added groceries to its stores in part because doing so spurs customers to make more frequent trips there, said Jim Hertel, senior vice president of analytics at Inmar Intelligence, a retail industry analytics company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The average customer visits a typical discount mass merchandiser once every four to six weeks, Hertel said.

“Once you put food in there, the trips go from every four weeks to four times a month. … So, you get more traffic and you get bigger baskets, so it’s kind of like a one-two punch,” he said.

During times of economic stress, like the current recession, discount stores like Walmart fare well.

“And especially now with the pandemic, we continue to see people consolidating shopping trips, so going to a store just like a Walmart, that definitely helps quite a bit,” said Joe Feldman, senior retail analyst at Telsey Advisory Group, a brokerage firm in Manhattan.

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