Walmart Inc. is an American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets (also called supercenters), discount department stores, and grocery stores from the United States, headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas. The company was founded by Sam Walton in nearby Rogers, Arkansas in 1962 and incorporated under Delaware General Corporation Law on October 31, 1969. It also owns and operates Sam’s Club retail warehouses. As of July 31, 2021, Walmart has 10,524 stores and clubs in 24 countries, operating under 48 different names. The company operates under the name Walmart in the United States and Canada, as Walmart de México y Centroamérica in Mexico and Central America, and as Flipkart Wholesale in India. It has wholly owned operations in Chile, Canada, and South Africa. Since August 2018, Walmart holds only a minority stake in Walmart Brasil, which was renamed Grupo Big in August 2019, with 20 percent of the company’s shares, and private equity firm Advent International holding 80 percent ownership of the company.
Retail rise to multinational status
While it was the third-largest retailer in the United States, Walmart was more profitable than rivals Kmart and Sears by the late 1980s. By 1990, it became the largest U.S. retailer by revenue.
Prior to the summer of 1990, Walmart had no presence on the West Coast or in the Northeast (except for a single Sam’s Club in New Jersey which opened in November 1989), but in July and October that year, it opened its first stores in California and Pennsylvania, respectively. By the mid-1990s, it was the most powerful retailer in the U.S. and expanded into Mexico in 1991 and Canada in 1994. Walmart stores opened throughout the rest of the U.S., with Vermont being the last state to get a store in 1995.
Branding and store design changes
In 2006, Walmart announced that it would remodel its U.S. stores to help it appeal to a wider variety of demographics, including more affluent shoppers. As part of the initiative, the company launched a new store in Plano, Texas, that included high-end electronics, jewelry, expensive wines and a sushi bar.
A Rising Contender
Walmart’s latest earnings report shows that the largest bricks-and-mortar retailer in the world is making significant progress, despite Amazon’s mammoth presence and massive share of U.S. internet sales. eCommerce sales were up 43% during the fourth quarter of 2018, and Walmart achieved online sales growth of 40% for the year.
Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs has indicated that Walmart is calling for internet sales to be up 35% in 2019, with growth each quarter of this year falling between 30% and a low 40 percentage.
With Amazon still accounting for roughly 50% of all eCommerce sales in the U.S., Walmart is steadily gaining ground. According to eMarketer, the company overtook Apple in 2018 to become the third-largest online retailer in the country, trailing only Amazon and eBay. And eMarketer predicts that Walmart will end 2019 with about a 4.6% share of the U.S. eCommerce market – up from 4% in 2018.