Customers who have already subscribed to the three-day shipping service ‘ShippingPass’ are the ones the firm is targeting as it continues to test the new service. The Q1 2017 earnings call is expected to take place on Thursday. We may hear more about this plan during the same.
New Outlet in Lehigh Township
A long-discussed plan to build a Wal-Mart supercenter in Lehigh Township appears to be back on the table. A Wal-Mart spokeswoman said the proposed store, at Route 145 and Birch Drive, is expected to open at some point in 2017. New to the project this time around, as per township officials and meeting minutes, is the addition of a 14,000-square-foot convenience store and gas station.
That would be the first Wal-Mart gas station in the Lehigh Valley, giving customers the ability to fill up on groceries, pharmacy products and gas or diesel in one place. Right now, the closest Wal-Mart to the Lehigh Valley with a gas station is in East Stroudsburg, as per Wal-Mart’s online store locator.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. was granted a trio of variances related to the fueling station, parking and steep slopes last month by the township’s Zoning Hearing Board. The next step is for Wal-Mart to go in front of the Planning Commission, but there’s no date slated for that to occur, said Cynthia Miller, vice chair of the Planning Commission and a Board of Supervisors member.
When it does get on an agenda, the township is expecting a good turnout from the public. ‘We’re getting a 50-50 [reaction] right now,’ Miller said. ‘Some residents are saying ‘good,’ and some residents are saying ‘not good.” This isn’t the first time but rather the third that the Arkansas retailer has expressed interest in Lehigh Township.
Township officials had earlier reviewed plans in mid-2013 for a 120,000-square-foot supercenter on a parcel at Route 145 and Birch Drive. Wal-Mart had proposed a store at the same place many years before that, but shelved the plan after the Great Recession hit and the firm slowed building new stores nationwide.
After getting a steep-slope variance in May 2013, the project appeared to get mothballed — until now. A Wal-Mart would again give Lehigh Township, Walnutport and Slatington residents a nearby grocery store, which they lost when the Pathmark at 300 S. Best Ave. in Walnutport closed last September.
The proposed location of the Wal-Mart is within two miles of the old Pathmark building, which is being marketed with brokers, Erica Cohen, leasing manager of J&W Management Corp., said on Wednesday. For Wal-Mart, a store in Lehigh Township would be almost 11 miles from its existing store on MacArthur Road in Whitehall Township and about 12 miles from a supercenter in Mahoning Township.
In January, Wal-Mart announced it was closing 154 locations in the United States, 102 of which were the firm’s smallest format stores, Wal-Mart Express. In the same announcement, Wal-Mart said it would instead focus on strengthening its supercenters. The firm plans to open 50 to 60 supercenters across the country during its current fiscal year, which began Feb. 1.
Shortly after, in early February, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. executives told longtime partner Murphy USA Inc. that the firm would build and operate its own gas stations moving forward. When constructing new stores, The Wall Street Journal reported, Wal-Mart plans to add gas stations to as many as it can.
Last week, Wal-Mart announced it planned to build a supercenter in Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII, at Route 412 and Commerce Center Boulevard in south Bethlehem. As of March 31, Wal-Mart had 4,589 locations in the United States, including 3,470 supercenters.