Is Walmart a Supermarket? (Not What You Think)

Walmart is a giant in the retail industry and has a wide selection of products. That said, you can find almost anything from clothing to tires at Walmart.

However, does this make Walmart a supermarket? In this article, we will delve into the characteristics of a supermarket and decide how Walmart should be classified!

Is Walmart a Supermarket?

Only Walmart’s division, Walmart Neighborhood Market, is considered to be a supermarket. That said, other branches of Walmart, like Walmart Supercenters and Traditional Walmart (online), aren’t classified as a supermarket. Instead, these branches are categorized as a supercenter or online retailer. 

Before you hit the checkout line, read what I found out about how credit card companies classify Walmart stores!

What’s the Difference Between Traditional Walmart, Walmart Supercenter, & Walmart Neighborhood Market?

Before determining how to classify Walmart, it’s important to consider that Walmart has three types of operations: traditional Walmart stores, Walmart Supercenters, and Walmart Neighborhood Market.

Although each store includes the Walmart name, the branding and target audience are different.

Traditional Walmart

When Walmart stores first opened, it operated as a grocery store with only dry food items and then expanded to include other department store items via online marketplaces.

Now found only in small retail markets, Walmart stores continue to sell food and other goods at affordable prices, essential for many consumers.

Walmart Supercenter

During the 1980s, Walmart Supercenter emerged, ranging in size from between 69,000 to 260,000 square feet.

Since these Walmarts have larger locations, they can offer more services to customers. That said, Walmart Supercenter is a Walmart location with “a broader product mix” than the typical Walmart store.

When you think of the term “one-stop-shop,” Walmart Supercenter is what comes to mind.

Also, expanded locations allow Walmart Supercenter to offer deli services, frozen foods, bakery, seafood, and refrigerated goods. In addition, larger locations typically include:

  • Walmart Autocare Centers
  • Pet shops
  • Garden centers
  • Optical
  • Pharmacy
  • One-hour photo labs
  • Portrait studio (phased out in many)
  • Medical and lab
  • Hair and nail salons
  • Restaurants
  • Other miscellaneous kiosks and Alcove shops (arcade, video rental, ecoATM, local banks, etc.)

Walmart Supercenter stores are usually located in suburban areas that are close to residential neighborhoods.

Walmart Neighborhood Market

In the 2000s, as families sought healthier options and variety in food, Walmart began opening Walmart Neighborhood Markets.

Also known as Walmart Express, Walmart Neighborhood Market is a smaller Walmart store that offers more fresh produce and groceries.

Since these locations are smaller than Walmart Supercenters, you will also find limited service, inventory, and employees.

In Walmart Neighborhood Market stores, you will not find most Alcove shops, although pharmacies and bakeries are featured.

As the name implies, Walmart Neighborhood Markets are usually found integrated into subdivisions in suburban areas with family homes.

Why Do I Need To Know If Walmart Is a Supermarket Or Superstore?

Many people use credit cards to purchase groceries and home goods.

That said, credit card companies such as American Express often offer benefits like cashback on purchases made on groceries.

Usually, when you apply for a credit card with cashback benefits, there will be details about what merchants are eligible for these benefits.

Moreover, each merchant has a specific code used to categorize their services, as the following codes:

For purchases to qualify to receive the cashback benefits, they must be classified as “Merchandise & Supplies – Groceries.”

So, people have noticed that Walmart purchases often do not have the grocery code because Walmart is considered either an online retailer or a supercenter.

For example, since many purchases from Traditional Walmart are made online, the AMEX code is “Merchandise & Supplies – online,” making groceries ineligible for cashback benefits.

What Is The Difference Between A Superstore And A Supercenter?

What Is The Difference Between A Superstore And A Supercenter? Walmart

At first, it may seem like a superstore and a supercenter are essentially the same thing. However, there are a few key factors that make the two different.

What Classifies A Supermarket

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a  supermarket, also known as a hypermarket, is a food retail outlet that sells household goods and food.

When you think of characteristics that make up an excellent supermarket, they should have an extensive selection of produce, dairy, meat, and other foods.

Also, supermarkets should have a wide range of household items for sale at stores.

What Classifies A Supercenter

Unlike a supermarket, a supercenter is a much larger retail location, reaching at least 185,00 square feet and larger.

To capitalize on impulse purchases, supercenters strive to be a one-stop shop. With that, these grocery centers are full-line discount stores with grocery and household goods and department store items.

Essentially, if you want it, then you can probably find it at a supercenter.

Why Is Walmart Not Always Classified As A Supermarket?

Because more and more people are purchasing online from Traditional Walmart and Walmart Supercenter has many products that are not grocery or household goods, Walmart stores are generally not given grocery codes.

Given that online purchases enable customers to buy many more products than groceries or household goods, Traditional Walmart is considered an online retailer, not a supermarket.

Similarly, Walmart Supercenter offers many products and services other than groceries or household goods and, as the name implies, is considered by credit companies to be a supercenter.

However, since Walmart Neighborhood Market does not have department store products and only sells groceries and household goods, it is considered a supermarket.

For credit cashback purposes, purchases made for food and household goods at Walmart Neighborhood Market locations are classified as groceries.

To know more, you can also read our posts on whether or not Walmart is a bank, whether Walmart is a department store, and if Walmart is a monopoly.


In the eyes of credit card companies, not all types of Walmart locations are classified as supermarkets.

With that, eligibility for cashback credit bonuses on groceries currently excludes supercenters.

Additionally, Walmart has three different subsidiaries that sell various products and are marketed to different demographics.

As more buyers are shopping online and at supercenters, you may want to review your credit agreement to see what eligible classifications receive cashback benefits.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of

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