Editor’s Note: Walmart steps up

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Editor’s Note: Walmart steps up

By Seth Mendelson - 09/26/2019

Walmart made two major announcements within five days last month that could change the tone of retailing for 20 years or more. 

While only one is going to make the giant retail chain more money, it was two steps in the right direction. They both prove that the chain’s top executives take their roles as national leaders, albeit in the private sector, extremely seriously.

First, the chain announced that it was testing a healthcare clinic that will give consumers access to affordable primary care, including mental health care, in Dallas, Ga. This clinic, called Walmart Health, will be located right next to a Walmart store, a move that may be designed to give customers a bit of privacy when visiting the location. 

The strategy is simple. Realizing that more than 140 million people a week visit a Walmart store, and health and wellness make up about 10% of sales, the chain’s top brass figured they easily could be a player in the primary healthcare business in no time. The fact that such competitors as CVS Health and Walgreens also are ratcheting up their in-store healthcare services probably did not fall on deaf ears, either. And, remember that Amazon cannot offer the same services. 

While such challenges as finding enough qualified professionals to work these clinics remain as they rollout through the country, this move will make affordable health care more accessible for many consumers and Walmart’s own employees. There is no doubt that Walmart officials are testing this clinic to build revenue, but I also believe that, if successful, the new competition could help lower healthcare costs for many people.

The second announcement was even more important. The chain said that it would discontinue the sale of certain types of ammunition across the country, and it would try to stop customers from openly carrying guns into its stores in so-called “open-carry” states. 

It is going to cost the chain a lot of money in reduced sales and create controversy with strong Second Amendment advocates that could lead to some type of boycott. But speaking as someone who believes in the right to bear arms, I also think it is time that reasonable action is taken to help stop the insanity and prevent some of the wrong people from acquiring weapons. If the government will not take the proper steps, private industry will have to step in. Walmart is making it clear that they are taking those steps. 

Like CVS Health’s bold move to stop selling tobacco products a few years ago, Walmart is stepping up to the plate and making a statement.

“Bully for you,” I say. “Bully for you.”