Wal-Mart announced at its October 6th Investor's meeting that it "plans to slow new-store openings," shifting its capital investments towards e-commerce technology.
In its superstore segment, Wal-Mart will drop from 69 new big box stores in FY 16, to 60 in FY 17, and only 35 by FY 18.
In his comments, Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon flatly stated: "We are a company that must become more of an e-commerce and technology company. There's no doubt that e-commerce is going to become a much more important part of our business."
Without once mentioning his desperate fixation on catching rival Amazon, McMillon promised customers a "fast and easy" shopping experience "when, where and how they want."
The huge Dinostores, once seen as the dominant species of retailing, are now viewed as ill-adapted to the climate change overtaking the marketplace, most notably the global warm-up of online shopping.
Wal-Mart became over-reliant on these vast retail caverns, hard to navigate and time-consuming to shop. Now they are trying to catch up to the Amazon model of fulfillment warehouses strategically placed around the globe.
Wal-Mart's Retail Ice Age is a result of its own misreading of the market. As I wrote in this space nine months ago: "Wal-Mart headquarters announced January 15th that the company will close a total of 269 stores world-wide, of which 154 are locations in the U.S. This store implosion represents the end of the line for Wal-Mart's smallest format, the so-called Wal-Mart Express. But it also reveals the giant retailer's over-saturation of American markets."
Wal-Mart has been cannibalizing its own stores for years by over-saturating market penetration.
In 2007, John Menzer, Wal-Mart's Chief Administrative Officer, told shareholders: "We also have been focused this year on reducing cannibalization of existing stores via our more strategic selection of U.S. real estate projects. As we continue to add new stores in the United States, we do so with an understanding that additional stores may take sales away from existing units."
The Dinostores are dying. Wal-Mart knows it. Shoppers know it. Perhaps by FY 19 Wal-Mart will be announcing no new superstore units at all, and the widespread closure of its outdated concrete mausoleums.