Latin America

Walmart’s Mexican Mini-Grocers

Walmart’s big-box stores in Mexico are suffering from flat sales, but at the global retail giant’s mini-grocer format, called Bodega Aurrera Express, sales are now growing at 12 percent a year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Bodega Aurrera Express stores look like oversized versions of mom-and-pop shops, with products stacked high against the walls and images of Bodega Aurrera’s mascot Mama Lucha, a chubby cartoon homemaker dressed like a masked wrestler, who fights for the best prices. The stores average about one-thirtieth of the selling space of a Walmart Supercenter.

Walmart launched the Bodega Aurrera Express format in 2008 and now operates nearly 900 of the stores, but sales only exploded this year. That growth is welcome for Walmart because the Mexican business accounts for 20 percent of the retailer’s international sales. But Walmart is already the biggest grocery retailer in Mexico with more than a fifth of all grocery sales.

One shopper at a Bodega Aurrera Express said she buys packaged items like toothpaste and shampoo at the store, where prices are better, but still gets her fruit, vegetables and meat from open-air stalls at a nearby street market. “It seems more practical than grabbing a car to go to the supermarket,” she said.

Simpler, more convenient stores are also winning in other markets. In Brazil, Walmart’s large-chain competitors are gaining traction with stores about the same size as Bodega Aurrera Express. And in the U.S., Walmart’s smaller-format Neighborhood Markets posted a 5.5 percent same-store sales increase in Q3, while overall Walmart same-store sales rose just 0.5 percent for the same period.

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