By Steve Kim, Associated PressWASHINGTON — Walmart and its biggest online rival Amazon have set up an online sales floor in their hometowns of Bentonville, Ark., and Chicago, to help local shoppers save money on goods and services.
The online retail giant announced Wednesday it would open its first online store in Chicago, in the heart of a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, where its online shopping has been an online goldmine.
The store, called Walmart at the World Trade Center, will open by Christmas.
The first store in Benton-on-Hudson, which is in a largely African-American neighborhood, opened last month.
Walmart announced in August that it had opened a second online store there, called Amazon at the Great Lakes, in 2016.
The company will open a new online store at a new mall in Brooklyn later this year.
The Chicago store is the latest in a string of Walmart and other retailers to open stores in major U.S. cities.
Amazon has already opened stores in New York City and Los Angeles, and Walmart has opened stores near Chicago and in some other cities.
Walton Scott, a professor of urban planning at University of Illinois, Chicago, said he hopes the new Walmart store will help Walmart and others in cities that are struggling with gentrification.
The store will serve as a test for the retail giant as it moves forward with plans to open new stores, he said.
The new store will also be a chance for the company to show that it is serious about investing in communities and has a plan to help revitalize the neighborhoods it is trying to open.
Walter McMillian, president of Walmart’s U.K. business, said in a statement that the company’s focus is on investing in local communities and communities that have been hit hard by gentrification.
“We are investing in this city to show the world that Walmart is here for you,” McMillian said.
Wal-Mart has a growing footprint in the Chicago area.
In 2015, the retailer bought a 4,000-square-foot store in the Loop neighborhood for $2.2 billion.
Walmex said Wednesday it had not yet decided if it will open an online store.
Its website lists several sites where shoppers can save on select items.
The website also says customers can shop on-demand through its Walmart Express website.
In Chicago, Walmart is opening an online shopping center in the city’s downtown area that it said will provide more than 5,000 employees with a wide range of online services.
It said the location is in the Merchandise Mart building that is part of the Chicago Mall and will offer a range of products and services including apparel, electronics, electronics accessories and home furnishings.