The world’s largest supermarket chain will open its first retail store in Australia this year, in a move that could see the Australian dollar hit record lows.
Walmart announced it will open up a number of stores in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth over the next 12 months.
The company is also planning to open a new branch in Canberra and in the Sunshine Coast.
There is a strong possibility the Australian economy will be hit hard by the closure of several big retailers.
Australian economists have forecast that the Australian currency will fall below 70 cents by the end of 2018, and the economy could shrink by between 6 and 8 per cent.
At least one retailer is reportedly considering taking the opportunity to open another store.
Australia’s largest retailer, Coles, said it would close four stores, with a further three expected to close by the middle of the year.
“This is a massive and painful decision for our people, our employees and our communities, and one that is going to have a profound impact on our communities,” Coles chief executive David Cairns said.
In response to the decision, Labor said the move was a “shocking and disgraceful decision for Australian consumers” and it would continue to fight for a future in the country.
Mr Cairnes said the company would continue its focus on growing in Australia.
“[But] we will not rest until we have made clear that we are a leader in the global retail sector,” he said.
“I believe this decision will create enormous uncertainty for Australians, and that will be a disaster for our economy and our economy’s competitiveness.”
The decision comes just days after the Federal Government said it was considering plans to introduce a new stamp duty on goods and services coming from overseas.
More than 20 per cent of goods imported from overseas are expected to be taxable in the US.
A number of major retailers including Woolworths, Walmart and Costco are considering relocating overseas to compete with US rivals, including Amazon, which is already home to a large number of its own stores.
Last week, the Australian Retail Consortium said it planned to move more than 1,000 stores to New Zealand, where it will continue to operate as an independent body.