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Walmart slows store openings, moves to bigger online presence

By Amy R. Connolly
Walmart announced a slowing of new U.S. store openings in the coming two years as the big-box retailer focuses on online business and foreign operations. Photo by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock
Walmart announced a slowing of new U.S. store openings in the coming two years as the big-box retailer focuses on online business and foreign operations. Photo by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Oct. 6 (UPI) -- Walmart announced a slowing of new U.S. store openings in the coming two years as the big-box retailer focuses on online business and foreign operations.

The company said it would open 130 stores in the 2017 fiscal year ending in February, down from its original projection of up to 155. Next year, it will open just 55 stores -- 35 super centers and 20 of its Neighborhood Markets. Walmart now has nearly 4,600 stores nationwide, with 198 added in 2015 and 316 added in 2016.

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The company said profits will be flat from 2017 to 2018 but will grow by 5 percent in 2019.

"Growth looks very different than it did 16 years ago but there's still so much opportunity for Walmart," CFO Brett Biggs said.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the company is moving beyond its brick-and-mortar stores to take a bigger bite out of online business.

"This company, over time, is going to look like more of an e-commerce company," he said.

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