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Despite Economic Slowdown, Walmart To Expand In China

Walmart will expand aggressively in China, with a plan to add 500 new locations in the country over the next half decade or so, according to a report by CNN.

The news comes as China is in the midst of an economic slowdown and a protracted trade war with the U.S.

The new stores would double the retailer’s presence in China, a country that is predicted to become the largest grocery market in the world by 2023.

China’s GDP growth has slowed significantly. Last quarter, it fell to the lowest level it has been in almost 30 years. Consumers are still spending money, however.

Walmart sales in China have grown 6.3 percent in the last quarter, which is larger than its global growth at 2.5 percent. Walmart said that it was going to pump upwards of $1 billion into the country to stave off competition from rivals.

The expansion of groceries and eCommerce in the country is a big part of Walmart’s strategic plan. The company also has plans to remodel about 200 stores in China, adding amenities like the ability to pay with facial recognition and self-service checkouts.

The company is using “multi-format strategies to bring customers freshness, value and convenience,” said James Ku, a senior vice president with Walmart China. “We will continue to collaborate with partners and policymakers in China to accelerate our expansion.”

Walmart used to have a Chinese eCommerce site called Yihaodian, which it sold to JD.com in 2016. JD.com is the second-biggest eCommerce site in the country behind Alibaba, but it still collaborates with Walmart regularly. More than 100 of Walmart’s 400 stores also double as JD.com warehouses. Walmart’s expansion will help JD.com with its reach.

Online grocery shopping is expected to continue to grow in the country, reaching sales of $205 billion by 2023. This is driven by a new middle class in the country that is used to using technology to purchase goods.

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