Walmart seemed to signal a landmark shift for the overall retail industry when it said earlier this week that it will sharply scale back store openings and instead focus on ecommerce.
If Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, says ecommerce is the focus, where does that leave the brick-and-mortar sector?
But Walmart’s ecommerce efforts, like the industry news of thousands of store closings this year, can obscure the fact that physical retail is actually growing. The pace is slow and overshadowed by the rise of ecommerce, but growth is occurring nevertheless.
eMarketer forecasts that nonecommerce retail sales will increase 2.8% this year, better than last year’s gain—a surprising change considering the widely heralded “retail apocalypse” headlines over the past months.
Ecommerce, on the other hand, is expected to jump 15.8% this year, also outstripping 2016’s gain.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told a gathering of investors at its Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters on Tuesday that the retailer will open fewer than 25 stores in the coming year, as “we are making a deliberate choice that we are going to win in ecommerce.”