Walmart Closing Down Marketside Test
Back in 2008 when Walmart opened four Marketside stores in the Phoenix area, it was largely believed to be the company’s response to Tesco’s entry into the U.S. market with the Fresh & Easy format. The thinking was that the smaller, somewhat more upscale, concept could help Walmart avoid a redux of the situation in the U.K. market where Tesco’s Express format filled a niche in which Asda had no offering.
Now comes word that Walmart is shelving the Marketside concept in favor of its new Express small store format. Walmart has opened five of the Express units with plans to have another 11 open by year’s end. The company sees the convenience store-sized units as a means to enter urban areas in need of groceries, but lacking the available space to build one of the chain’s bigger boxes.
Not all are convinced that the Express format will fare any better than Marketside for Walmart.
"We continue to believe it will take multiple years for Walmart to perfect this concept, if ever," Mark Montagna, an analyst with Avondale Partners, told Reuters.
From the very beginning, Marketside was a bit far afield of what most think of when Walmart is part of the discussion. According to Walmart, Marketside stores offered:
- A large selection of organic foods, which represented roughly 20 percent of a store’s stock;
- Freshly prepared hot entrees, sides and soups;
- Produce sections with a focus on local suppliers;
- A full-service deli;
- A butcher shop;
- A bakery;
- Fresh cut flowers with a freshness guarantee.
- Walmart to close Marketside stores next week – Reuters/Chicago Tribune
- Wal-Mart Going Upscale with Marketside Concept – RetailWire
- Marketside Backgrounder – Walmart Stores
Discussion Questions: What do you think Walmart learned from its Marketside test? Does the Marketside experience have implications for the Walmart Express business?