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walmart is lowering the cost of its subscription service for Americans receiving food stamps and other government assistance as it fuels the growth of the program and sees greater price sensitivity among shoppers.
The nation’s largest retailer said Thursday it will cut the price of Walmart+ in half for low-income households. Starting July 20, customers who are eligible for qualified government assistance can pay $49 a year or $6.47 a month for Walmart+. That compares to the typical price of $98 a year, or $12.95 if members pay monthly.
For Walmart, the move could help capture and retain the fringe of shoppers who can skip or cancel recurring fee services or turn to another retailer like a dollar store. Walmart has not disclosed the total number of Walmart+ subscribers, but said about a quarter of its members receive government assistance. He declined to say how that compares to the rest of his customer base.
On Walmart’s most recent earnings call in May, CEO Doug McMillon said customers are feeling the brunt of higher grocery bills. He called persistent inflation, especially for food, “one of the key factors creating uncertainty for us in the second half of the year.”
Many families struggling to pay for food also receive less generous Benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, after pandemic-related emergency funding ended earlier this year.
Walmart’s discounted pricing could put Walmart+ within the reach of more shoppers, if they’re willing to pay the fee. More than 41 million Americans received food funds through SNAP in 2022, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. That number does not include people who receive other types of government assistance who may qualify for the discount. Most of the types of assistance on the list, such as Medicaid and the National School Lunch Program, help families with children or those who are food insecure.
Walmart launched Walmart+ in 2020 to engage shoppers and make them more likely to spend on its website and in stores. is similar to Amazon Prime, and follow the playbook of membership-based warehouses, like costco and Sam’s Club, owned by Walmart
Walmart+ members get free shipping, fuel discounts, access to the Paramount+ streaming service, and unlimited delivery on online orders of $35 or more from store to door.
The program appears to have gained some traction, but Walmart is still looking for ways to increase its uptake as it lags behind Prime. Its membership is about 12 million, according to estimates by market researcher Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, based on quarterly consumer surveys and industry research.
Some others set the count higher. In a recent estimate, Morgan Stanley said Walmart+ has reached about 21.5 million members, or about 17% of US household penetration.
Either number, however, represents only a small fraction of the estimated 170 million Amazon Prime memberships in the US, according to CIRP.
Amazon has a similarly discounted rate for low-income households that qualify for government assistance and sign up for Prime. It charges $6.99 per month, instead of the full $14.99 per month. The lower rate started in 2017.
Along with the discounted price of Walmart+, Walmart said it has made it easier for families receiving food assistance to shop online. He said he now accepts SNAP online in all 50 states. Customers who qualify for SNAP can add their benefits card to the Walmart app or website, so they can shop for groceries online or use curbside pickup.
Amazon accepts SNAP in all states except Alaska.
For Walmart, expanding the Walmart+ subscriber base comes with other benefits. The monthly and annual fees not only provide a revenue stream, but the program allows the retailer to better understand customer preferences and purchases.
You can use those insights to support your analytics tool, Walmart Luminate, which you sell to customers or support your growing advertising business, Walmart Connect.