By MICHAEL WALSHEER and RICHARD LAUTENBERGReuters in BusinessThe US retail giant Walmart has sold off its vast online marketplace and will now invest $3 billion in expanding its e-commerce business, boosting the economy and adding jobs to a sluggish recovery.
The deal, announced Tuesday by Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon, will help Walmart add 200,000 full-time jobs in the US and boost its gross domestic product by 2.7 percent over the next decade.
Walmart, which sells clothing, groceries and home goods at a profit of $3 to $4 per share, is the second-largest privately held retailer in the United States.
Its online store, Walmart.com, is expected to have more than 100 million monthly visitors, which will increase by about 3.3 million in the first two years after the sale.
The new $3-billion online store is set to launch next year, bringing the company’s online sales to about $20 billion, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
Walmons chief executive Doug McMillion, who joined the company in February, said the deal will boost Walmart’s sales by about 50 percent by the end of 2019.
The company said that by 2019, it plans to open 500 new stores and 1,000 other stores in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Walter White, who played a key role in the creation of the character in the classic “Breaking Bad” television series, will be back as a recurring character in “Fargo” next year.
The online store has had a slow start to the year.
Its online sales rose just 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, which ended in October, compared with an annual increase of 15 percent for the year to date.
In January, Walmart announced that it was ending the business of selling items in stores and had begun selling online.
The sale of the online store marks a reversal for the company, which has had difficulty growing its online sales.
It has struggled to maintain profitability and was unable to meet its growth targets.
McMillon, who is known for his tough rhetoric on corporate governance, has made his fortune from his family’s grocery store chain.
He is now chairman and CEO of Walgreens.
The retail giant had struggled to stay competitive in a changing marketplace, which increasingly is dominated by online retailers such as Amazon, which owns the popular e-retail site.
Walgops sales fell by 10 percent in 2016 and by 10.5% in 2017.
In its earnings report released Tuesday, Walmart said that its online store was the largest in the world, surpassed only by Amazon’s online store.
The sales of its online business have more to do with the growing number of consumers who prefer shopping through brick-and-mortar stores than with a change in the online business model.
McDonald’s is expanding its stores by 10 million to 20 million, bringing its total store base to more than 2 million.
Walman’s online business has grown more than double since the beginning of the year, to $13 billion.
It expects that total sales will reach $18 billion by 2019.