Walmart’s Newest Move Will Make Some Customers Angry

Younger consumers, however, may be pleased by the change.

If you ask a group of friends which big-box retailer is the most successful these days, most likely one (or a few) of them will say Amazon  (AMZN) – Get Free Report

Thanks to its Prime services and the advent of two-day and same-day shipping, Amazon is a ubiquitous presence in the lives of many.

But the folks who say that would be wrong because Walmart  (WMT) – Get Free Report has held the No. 1 spot in revenue for a very long time. Walmart’s 2021 revenue was more than twice what Amazon took in that year, per the National Retail Foundation.

Despite its dominance in the retail market, Walmart does lag behind Amazon in a few areas. One is subscriptions. While 61% of Amazon users have a Prime membership, only 16% of Walmart customers have a Walmart+ subscription as of 2022.

Another pain point for Walmart is demographic. The average Walmart customer is female, white, and 59 years old, per Numerator data. While the retailer does still attract younger customers, it wants more of them — which is clear when you look at the recent tactical moves it’s made. 

And while its latest change may be attractive to younger consumers, it has the potential to make others less than happy.

What Did Walmart Change?

As of January 2023, Walmart will stop offering all single-use bags (both plastic and paper) in its stores in New York and Colorado, a Walmart spokesperson confirmed to Insider. The new policy is already in effect in Colorado and will start in New York on Jan. 18.

Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to carry their purchases home. They can also purchase Walmart-branded reusable bags in stores, which range in price from $0.74 to $3.98 and come in small, medium, and large sizes. A cooler bag is also available for refrigerated and frozen items.

The retailer has already stopped offering single-use bags in New Jersey, Maine, and Vermont, bringing the total states in which the policy will be in effect to five. 

Not Everyone Wants Eco-Friendly Options

Some folks took to Twitter to complain about the change, saying Walmart should provide free reusable bags for customers.

While eco-minded people are more than willing to bring their own bags to the store and enjoy contributing to reducing waste, others clearly feel inconvenienced by the change.

Some, however, are using the change to brainstorm new solutions. In a Walmart store in Mountain View, Calif., the store piloted a solution in 2021 called Goatote, which uses an app to enable consumers to borrow reusable bags. 

Returning a bag within 30 days is free while keeping it for more than 30 days results in a $2 charge (but the customer then can keep the bag for good).

Walmart first said it would join the “Beyond the Bag” initiative on its blog in 2020.

The change is one small part of the retailer’s bigger sustainability goals, which include zero emissions across global operations by the year 2040 and 100% recyclable, reusable, or industrially compostable private-brand packaging by 2025.

In other words, more bags are going to disappear from its stores, so you should probably invest in some reusable ones if you’re a regular Walmart customer.

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