retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Financial Times reports, “Commercial real estate brokers say Walmart has begun scouting for sites for smaller- format stores in a range of urban markets, including Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area in northern California, as well as in Reno, Detroit and other cities ... Bill Simon, chief executive of Walmart’s US business, has said the expansion plans, to be outlined next month, will include convenience stores similar to those it runs in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America ... Walmart’s small-format ambitions will open a new competitive front in its battle with the traditional supermarkets such as Kroger and Safeway.”

USA Today this morning reports that Walmart is expected to announce today that it will “almost double the number of locations to have solar, with a next-generation solar technology planned for many of them.”

According to the story, “In 2005, Wal-Mart set the goal of being 100% reliant
on renewable energy. It didn't give a time frame and hasn't said how far it's come. But given Wal-Mart's 8,400 locations worldwide, it's barely made a dent in the goal.

“Nonetheless, the world's biggest retailer is running real-world tests on green-energy technologies. Because of its heft, it could quickly deploy winning technologies and propel them into the mass market while proving to other companies that the economics work, renewable-energy experts say.”

Bloomberg also reports that the India government may decide within three months whether to allow foreign retailers such as Walmart and Carrefour to open retail stores within its borders, a move that could have enormous implications for retailers hoping to set up shop in Asia’s third largest economy.

The companies currently have wholesaling joint ventures in India, but have yet to be able to get into the retail business.

• The Chicago Tribune had a brief piece over the weekend about one of the most popular guys in Chicago, at least among those who would like to rent, sell or build real estate. His name is L.B. Johnson, who is in charge of Walmart’s real estate efforts in the Windy City, where the company has plans to build several dozen stores of varying sizes.

“Now that the City Council appears open to an unprecedented urban expansion from the retailer, commercial brokers and developers are ‘coming out of the woodwork,’ according to a source,” the Tribune writes.
KC's View: