Walmart on Thursday launched Walmart+ Assist, a half-price membership program for those receiving government aid such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid.
Like Walmart+, the new program offers free shipping and grocery delivery, gas discounts and video streaming via Paramount+ with a monthly or annual fee. This version, though, costs $6.47 per month or $49 per year, half that of the one that debuted in 2020.
“Walmart+ Assist was designed to do exactly what’s in the name: assist those who need it most,” Venessa Yates, SVP and general manager of Walmart+, said in a company blog post Thursday.
The program makes smart business sense for Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart: SNAP recipients buy their groceries there more than at any other retailer—by a large margin.
The retail giant accounted for 25.5% of SNAP shoppers’ annual grocery spend, far outpacing No. 2 Kroger (8.4%), Costco Wholesale (6%) and Albertsons (5.9%) through the end of the first quarter of 2023, according to data from Numerator’s SNAP Shopper Scorecard that was released in May.
And the expiration on March 1 of SNAP Emergency Allotment (EA) benefits means that about 32 million people are now getting an average of $95 less per household to spend on groceries than they were a year ago.
To sign up for Walmart+ Assist, applicants must verify their eligibility through third-party verification provider SheerID. Qualifying programs include SNAP; Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); Medicaid; Supplemental Security Income (SSI); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF); National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Eligibility for Walmart+ will be recertified each year.
Eligible customers who have never had a Walmart+ membership before can enroll in a free, 30-day trial of the program. The program offers all of the same benefits as Walmart+.
In October 2022, Amazon debuted Amazon Access and a renamed discount membership program, Prime Access. The program offers a Prime membership for $6.99 a month for those in eligible government assistance programs, more than half off a full-priced Prime subscription. Amazon Prime members receive free shipping, video streaming and other perks.
“Given the tough economic climate with many facing rising costs on essential needs, we want our customers to know about all the accessible offerings available on Amazon, no matter their circumstances,” Amazon said last year.
In 2019, Walmart became an early entrant into the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s SNAP Online Purchase Pilot program, allowing SNAP recipients shop via e-commerce channels. Alaska was recently added to the program, and Walmart said it is now the first retailer to accept SNAP benefits online in all 50 states.
“Walmart+ Assist is another huge step forward in helping those who need it most experience all the benefits at the heart of our membership,” Yates said.