What's In Store

Walmart elbowing further into health, wellness sector with new initiatives

Shoppers leave a Wal-Mart store in Danvers, Mass. in a February 2009 file photo.
Shoppers leave a Wal-Mart store in Danvers, Mass. in a February 2009 file photo. AP

Walmart executives this week outlined ways the retail giant is elbowing its way further into the competitive health and wellness sector.

Walmart, the largest grocer in the Charlotte region by market share, will host a massive health fair across thousands of its U.S. stores Oct. 10 to offer free preventive care like blood pressure and vision screenings. The retail giant also said it will provide health insurance consultations starting Oct. 15 and will give more prominence in its stores to certain health foods.

“We play an important role in making healthcare available to millions and helping millions put healthy meals on the table. This is a responsibility we take seriously,” Michelle Gloeckler, Walmart’s executive vice president of consumables and health and wellness, said in a statement Tuesday.

Walmart’s announcement comes as rival retailer Target is also pushing its way into the health sector with the sale of its pharmacy and clinic businesses to drugstore chain CVS Health. The hope is to make Target a one-stop shop for customers picking up prescriptions.

In its upcoming health fair, which takes place at more than 4,400 stores nationwide Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., Walmart will offer free blood glucose, blood pressure and vision screenings, product samples and health insurance information. The retailer will also offer immunizations at select stores.

Arkansas-based Walmart also said that through a partnership with DirectHealth.com, it will offer health insurance consultations in which customers can compare coverage options and enroll in health plans from Oct. 15 through Jan. 31. That takes place at more than 2,400 Walmart stores, online and over the phone.

Additionally, Walmart said starting in January, it will place nutrition bars from makers like Clif and Luna more prominently in main aisles instead of in the over-the-counter section.

Walmart, which has been expanding rapidly in the Charlotte region with its Neighborhood Market concept, also recently said it will start offering pickup service for online orders at three Charlotte-area stores.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta