The One Thing You Can Do At Walmart That You Almost Can’t Do Anywhere Else

Customers can still print and develop physical photos at Walmart stores.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

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As the retail industry continues to streamline its operations with self-check-out isles and other updates, some aspects still feel like they’re of another era. But the most retro part of these stores is their photo-printing equipment. In a time when most photos don’t leave the confines of a smart device, Walmart and other chains still offer prints, greeting cards, books, film processing, and other services. While it might seem like an unnecessary facility, there’s still demand from some people.

Walmart’s photo service brings foot traffic to its stores, especially during the holidays. There’s also an increased demand for prints during graduation and wedding seasons. More than 50% of photo prints made each year come from a retail store, CNN Business reports. And according to David Haueter, a longtime photo industry analyst and the founder of consulting and market research firm Rise Above Research, that’s about $786 million in sales. He also said that approximately 4.2 billion 4” x 6” prints will be developed at stores this year alone.

“People aren’t printing as much as they used to, but there are still people who like to print,” Haueter told the publication. Alongside Walmart’s retro photo service, vintage technology and older gadgets have staying power because they allow people to unplug from their devices. Additionally, interest in film cameras among Millennials and Gen Z has increased in recent years. Photography became a popular hobby, with camera sales reportedly spiking on sites like Etsy and eBay.

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Disposable cameras have also made a comeback with young folks. Especially since celebrities like Chris Pine and Gigi Hadid have been spotted with them, helping to boost interest. Moreover, Haueter said people like ordering photo prints and products at stores like Walmart because they get the images immediately, without any shipping charges. And it’s super convenient since they’re often at these stores to purchase other stuff too. CVS also offers photo printing, with a spokesperson saying its 7,600 stores still see strong demand for the service around gift-giving seasons.

Along with Walmart and CVS, more than 8,000 Walgreens stores offer similar photo printing options. Speaking about the service, Walgreens’ Senior Director of Digital Commerce Strategy and Planning, Raghu Valata, said, “Holidays tend to be a busy time for our photo business, with the highest foot traffic generally seen in December.” While some retailers have kept their photo services in stores, businesses like Costco and Target have dropped them in recent years.

Last year, Costco closed photo centers at all of its stores, telling customers that the continued decline of prints no longer required on-site photo printing. The retailer added that digital technologies allow consumers to do more with their photos. But the service is still going strong at Walmart. Around 3,700 stores have Fujifilm photo kiosks which are typically located within the retailer’s electronics department. And they’re often put to use.

It’s a service that “customers use quite regularly,” a Walmart spokesperson explained. This includes people who may not have access to a computer to order prints online. “We maintain a healthy business year-round,” the representative added.