Walmart is seeking approval to spruce up its Farmingdale store with a 62,450-square-foot addition to convert it to a supercenter with a grocery store and expanded departments.
“That’s the business model we would prefer to have in a place because we would be able to offer our customers one-stop shopping,” Walmart spokesman Phillip Keene said Tuesday in an interview.
The Town of Babylon has scheduled a public hearing during a planning board meeting at 7 p.m. Aug. 6 for Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart Inc.’s proposal to enlarge its store at 965 Broadhollow Rd. If approved, the project would increase the building’s size by 40 percent to 219,450 square feet.
The discount retailer's proposal includes a plan for new entrance vestibules and a drive-through service canopy area for picking up online orders.
The company submitted its application for site plan approval to the planning board in September 2017, said Babylon spokesman Kevin Bonner, who said that the time between the submission and public hearing date was not unusual for a project of this size.
“The site plan application is circulated among the various town departments that need to weigh in before it is scheduled before the planning board,” he said Monday.
The project would also need Zoning Board of Appeals approval, he said.
Opened in 2007, the Farmingdale store already has auto care, photo and vision centers, as well as a pharmacy, store pickup for online orders and a Subway restaurant.
Walmart Supercenters are larger than the company's regular stores — 185,000 square feet compared to 100,000 square feet on average. Its full-service grocery stores include fresh produce sections, delis, bakeries, and expanded freezer and dairy sections, Keene said.
A typical conversion to a supercenter would also expand the baby, and health and beauty sections.
If Babylon approves the expansion, Walmart will evaluate the store for other possible updates, Keene said.
Among Walmart’s 12 stores on Long Island, only the location in Valley Stream is a supercenter.
Among all stores that sell some form of groceries on Long Island, including drugstores and warehouse clubs, Walmart ranks eighth, with 4.94 percent of the market, according to a June report from Food Trade News, a Columbia, Maryland-based publication.
Stop & Shop has the largest market share on Long Island, 21.02 percent, followed by ShopRite, with 8.16 percent.
Walmart's supercenter conversions are part of a nationwide plan, but no others are planned for Long Island at this time, Keene said. Dozens of stores across the nation have been converted over the past five or six years.
Nationwide, Walmart Supercenters account for the largest share of grocery sales in the nation and they're seeing sales growth, so it makes sense that the retailer would be looking to boost that business segment, said Jon Hauptman, senior director of Inmar Analytics, a grocery industry analytics firm based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
“I think everybody is looking for growth in food and Amazon certainly isn’t making it any easier. However, Walmart’s also seeing food dollars going to other channels, such as dollar stores and limited-assortment stores,” he said.
Of Walmart's 5,295 locations in the United States, including Sam’s Club warehouse stores, 67 percent are supercenters, according to the company's website.