LOS ANGELES Wal-Mart Stores Inc has signed a deal for its first Neighborhood Market grocery store in Los Angeles, the world's biggest retailer said on Friday.
The store will compete with traditional grocery chains, such as those owned by Kroger Co and Safeway Inc, intensifying pressure in what already is one of the nation's most competitive markets for food sales.
The planned 33,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market will be on the ground floor of a senior housing complex on the edge of downtown Los Angeles' Chinatown neighborhood.
An opening date has not been set, spokesman Steve Restivo said.
The store will be about one-fifth the size of a traditional Walmart store and sell food and other everyday items.
Critics were quick to voice concerns that Wal-Mart would crush the Chinatown neighborhood's small, family-owned businesses and offer jobs that do not provide a living wage.
"There's no way that they can compete with a giant like Wal-Mart," said Roxana Tynan, executive director of LAANE, which advocates for better wages and benefits for workers.
"The Chinatown store will continue Wal-Mart's track record of perpetuating poverty jobs in low-income communities in Los Angeles," Tynan said.
Restivo said Wal-Mart's wages and benefits are competitive the majority of California competitors and that its stores spur economic growth in the neighborhoods where they are located.
Wal-Mart operates 167 Neighborhood Markets across the United States. It opened its first Neighborhood Market in Chicago in 2011.
(Reporting By Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer, Richard Chang and Bernard Orr)