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Walmart Supercenter opening this fall in Yaphank as retailer courts more grocery shoppers

A Walmart Supercenter is scheduled to open in

A Walmart Supercenter is scheduled to open in November at The Boulevard development in Yaphank.   Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Long Island’s third Walmart Supercenter is slated to open in November, in Yaphank, as the world’s largest retailer aims to be a bigger player in the local grocery market.

Walmart’s supercenters are larger on average than its regular stores — 182,000 square feet versus 106,000 square feet — and include grocery stores, clothing, electronics and home furnishings, as well as some independent businesses, such as banks, fast-food restaurants and nail salons. More than 400 workers will be hired for the Yaphank store, Walmart said.

While Walmart Inc. is the nation’s largest grocery seller, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company hasn’t cracked the top five on Long Island, where it has 13 stores, including two supercenters and one Sam’s Club.

The retailer is betting on more local supercenters, having already converted a now-14-year-old regular Walmart in Farmingdale to a supercenter last year.

"Groceries are central to Walmart’s entire business model. That’s how they attract shoppers coming into the store on a regular basis, many of which come multiple times a week to shop," said Jon Hauptman, senior director of Inmar Intelligence, a retail industry analytics company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

A Walmart Supercenter will be the main anchor store when it opens in The Boulevard, a Yaphank residential and retail complex under development on William Floyd Parkway just north of the Long Island Expressway at Exit 68N.

At 197,000 square feet, the Yaphank Walmart will also include an auto care center and an expanded lawn and garden/seasonal department, the retailer said.

Most supercenters operated 24 hours a day before the COVID-19 pandemic began to hit the U.S. significantly in March 2020, but all the stores are operating from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. now because of the health crisis.

Of Walmart Inc.'s 5,339 stores in the United States, including Sam's Clubs, 3,570, or 67%, are supercenters.

Among the company’s 13 stores on Long Island, there is one Sam’s Club in Medford, two supercenters — in Farmingdale and Valley Stream — and a 50,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market, which is a grocery store, in Levittown.

Walmart Inc. is the largest grocery seller in the country, where its supercenters alone in 2020 had $370 billion in U.S. sales, of which $233 billion, or 63%, was from groceries, Hauptman said. But on Long Island, it’s a different story.

Among all stores that sell groceries on Long Island, including drugstores and warehouse clubs, Walmart has the eighth largest share of sales, 4.69%, according to a June report from Food Trade News, a Columbia, Maryland-based publication.

The top player, Stop & Shop, which has 51 supermarkets on the Island, ranks far ahead, with 20.08% of the market, while ShopRite ranks second, with 16 stores and 8.92% of the market, according to the report.

That’s one of the reasons that Walmart’s supercenters are so important to its efforts to change its local fortunes.

Walmart’s one-stop shopping concept, allowing consumers to get everything from groceries to pajamas to manicures to oil changes under one roof, is essential to driving its foot traffic.

Aside from the Walmart Supercenter, about 100,000 square feet of retail space for smaller stores is under development at The Boulevard, said Brian Ferruggiari, spokesman for AVR Realty Co., the Yonkers-based developer of the project.

Located at the former Parr Meadows racetrack site, The Boulevard is a 322-acre development formerly called the Meadows at Yaphank. Also under construction in the $450 million complex are upscale rental apartments and for-sale condos and townhomes. Construction of an assisted-living facility and a hotel called Home2 Suites by Hilton was completed on the property last year.

"The Boulevard is progressing very well. You know, right on schedule," Ferruggiari said.

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