Department stores are typically large, multi-story buildings that house many smaller specialty sections under one roof. Traditional Walmart, on the other hand, doesn’t provide the same experience as a department store.
However, because Walmart sells so many products, you may be wondering if it’s technically considered a department store. I’ve looked into the matter, and here’s everything I discovered!
Is Walmart a Department Store?
Some of Walmart’s branches of business are considered department stores. For example, Walmart’s online portal, as well as Walmart Supercenters, are classified as department stores. However, Walmart Neighborhood Market stores aren’t department stores because these locations don’t sell a lot of general merchandise products.
If you want to learn more about what determines whether or not a store is a department store, keep on reading!
Walmart is not just a grocery store; it’s so much more.
After years of success, the company has expanded to include home, clothing, food, and household items departments.
Born in 1962 as a discount store in Rogers, Arkansas, Walmart was initially a local “department store” that expanded into the world’s largest grocery store.
In Bentonville, Arkansas, in 1968, the first Walmart Department Store offered clothes and home goods.
Since then, Walmart has opened stores with TVs and electronics and specialty shops that include books or jewelry.
As of 2021, the brand that began in Rogers, Arkansas, has expanded to operate under three different banners: Walmart, Walmart Supercenter, and Walmart Neighborhood Market.
That said, each of these brands has a different focus and leads to additional classification.
What Is the Definition Of a Department Store?
Many of you may call Walmart a department store, but do you know what makes a store a department store?
Department stores are one of the oldest forms of retail and exist worldwide, but specific traits identify them.
Most notably, department stores focus on providing a wide range of products, from clothing to groceries to furniture and everything in between, under one roof.
Also, department stores offer items from several different categories, such as clothing, electronics, or food.
That said, some additional features of department stores include:
- Usually found in central areas of cities or designated shopping areas such as malls or town centers.
- Singular management controls all areas of operation and marketing within the store.
- High operational costs to cover rent, operations, staffing, and marketing.
- Extensive use of advertising for products and services offered within the location.
Department stores will continue to exist into the future because they’re an efficient way for shoppers to find anything that they need in one convenient location.
What Are the Different Types Of Department Stores?
Since department stores have different traits depending on their target buyers and the products offered, it may be even more difficult for consumers to identify what stores are considered department stores.
With that, the following are some common types of department stores:
Most notably found in this category is Walmart.
That said, buyers choose discount department stores because they can buy items in bulk at lower prices than those found at other retail locations.
Off-price stores such as TJ Maxx are favorites because products are often heavily discounted.
Stores purchase overstock, off-season, or slightly damaged goods directly from manufacturers and pass the discount on to consumers.
When looking for deep discounts on products from a single brand, you should visit an outlet store like Gap Factory.
Outlet stores not only have considerable savings, but you can find a wider variety of products from a specific brand at these locations.
Category Specific Stores
Like outlet stores, category-specific retailers only offer certain types of products even though many different brands exist.
An example would be the furniture store Rooms to Go.
In this category, you will find Sam’s Club, which Walmart owns. Moreover, warehouse stores are large department stores that operate as members-only retailers.
Here, members can purchase large bulk items at the lowest costs.
What Are the Differences in Walmart Stores?
Walmart is the world’s largest retail company. Across its three brands, Walmart has various products to choose from, such as clothes, food items, and household items.
Traditional Walmart (Online)
When we refer to traditional Walmart, we typically talk about Walmart online since most locations have switched to Walmart Supercenter or Walmart Neighborhood Market.
Currently, there are 35 million products available to purchase from Walmart.
That said, consumers can find items from Walmart discount locations, hypermarkets, department stores, and supermarkets.
Since Walmart online is so comprehensive, with so many goods and services available, it can be considered an online department store but not a traditional department store since there is no physical location.
Usually found in urban areas, Walmart Supercenter is the flagship store for Walmart.
These Walmarts are considered discount centers, and buyers can find many goods at low prices.
In addition to nearly 120,000 products found in Walmart stores, Walmart customers have access to many services, such as a vision center, pharmacy, Tire Lube Express, a grocery section, and general merchandise.
Overall, this type of Walmart is considered a supercenter. However, since sections in the general merchandise area hold specific products, it is also a department store.
Walmart Neighborhood Market
Walmart Neighborhood Markets are about a quarter the size of Walmart Supercenters and are usually found in suburban areas.
At these locations, Walmart offers fresh food products for areas that typically have families.
Unlike traditional Walmart (online) or Walmart Supercenter, there are few general merchandise items. Instead, stores focus on grocery items and household goods.
Due to the lack of general merchandise offerings, Walmart Neighborhood Market is not considered a department store.
Instead, Walmart Neighborhood Markets are regarded as grocery stores or supermarkets.