Wal-Mart Stores Inc., usually just called WalMart, was founded by Sam Walton in 1962. Walton purchased one if the Ben Franklin stores in 1945. His focus was on the profit margin. Walton believed that selling products at a lower selling price, but in high volume sales, would make both customer and himself happy with the deal.
Walton was on to something, as sales increased 45% during his first year in business with his Ben Franklin store. When his 5-year lease with the company expired, he was unable to reach a new agreement. Walton opened his own store on Main Street in Bentonville, calling it Waltons Five and Dime. The original store is now a Walmart museum.
In 1962, Walton opened his second location on Walnut Street in Rogers, Arkansas.
By 1967, the chain had 24 locations across Arkansas. In 1968, stores were opened in Missouri and Oklahoma.
In 1970, the Walmart corporate office and distribution center was opened in Bentonville, AR. The company also went public the same year, trading stock on the NYSE under the ticker symbol: WMT.
In 1988, Sam Walton stepped down as CEO and was replaced by David Glass. In 2000, H. Lee Scott took over as President and CEO.
By 2005, there were 6200 stores worldwide.
Walmart currently operates nearly 12,000 stores under 55 different names in 15 countries and is the largest retailer in the world. Why Walmart? Walmart’s own customers cite low prices as the most important reason for shopping there. The average American Walmart customer’s income is below the national average, and analysts estimated that more than one-fifth of them lack a bank account, which is twice the national rate. Walmart is often conveniently located near bus stations or close to residential neighborhoods.
Annual revenue for 2016 was $485.87 billion. The company has more than 1.4 million employees in the US alone, with an estimated 2.3 million employees worldwide. Walmart U.S. is the company’s largest division, making up 62.3 percent of all sales.
In early 2016, the company announced that it would close 269 locations, most of them in the US. Most of the closures occur where there is another Walmart location within 10 miles. At the same time, the company announced it had plans to open 60 Supercenters, 95 Neighborhood Markets, 10 new Sam’s Club stores, and approximately 240 international locations in 2017.
The company acquired Jet.Com, an eCommerce site, in August of 2016 for $3.3 billion.
In January of 2017, just one day after stating the company would increase the starting wage of regular employees, the company stated that they were removing about 3,500 store co-managers, a salaried role that acts as a lieutenant underneath each store manager, according to people familiar with the move. It’s also adding about 1,700 assistant store managers, a slightly lower-paid role, who will oversee fast-growing areas like online orders. This means a pay cut for many former co-managers.
The company also abruptly closed about 63 underperforming Sam’s Club locations, without telling their employees, many of whom showed up for work, only to find the doors locked.
In May 2019, the company announced that it would raise prices on nearly every item in the store if Trump’s tariff’s against China went into effect June 1st, 2019.
That same month, Walmart executives also announced that they would be removing tobacco products from some locations and raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21.
A company spokesperson said this was a necessary step in order to allow employees to stock shelves and disinfect stores. The change in hours is also being announced by other retail locations, such as Hy-Vee, Randalls, HEB, and Kroger grocery stores.
Also in March 2020, Walmart stated that they would allow their locations and parking lots to be used for drive-through testing for the CORVID-19 virus. Other locations which also agreed to provide these services include Walgreens, Target, and CVS.
On July 20, 2020, Walmart announced that all customers would be required to wear face masks at all locations. This move is designed to protect customers from the COVID-19 virus.