Walmart Revamps Auto Service Centers

Walmart Stores auto centers, the car-maintenance areas attached to many of its stores, are getting a service overhaul.

To improve the experience and entice more customers, the company is dedicating staffing and training programs to the department. A new class of salaried assistant managers will be assigned to the auto-care centers, where they’ll oversee merchandise and services, said Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg.

The changes are meant to yield benefits beyond the auto centers. Customers are likely to shop around the stores as they wait for their cars to be fixed, said Burt Flickinger, managing director at Strategic Resource Group in New York. The company has been trying to improve sales in the U.S. division, which earlier this week reported comparable-store sales that missed analysts’ estimates.

“People will be spending at Walmart auto care, then, because they’ll have an hour to shop, they’ll probably be spending more in the supercenter,” Flickinger said.

Walmart’s more than 2,500 auto-care centers in the U.S. historically have been underused, he said. Since they’re usually hidden on the side of stores, some shoppers don’t even know they exist, Flickinger said.

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