The Wall Street Journal reports that Google plans to create retail stores in the United States, corroborating some of last week's report from 9to5Google that indicated the company may open stores as early as this year. As reported earlier, the WSJ says the stores are said to likely sell Google-branded hardware, which has traditionally been sold through third-party retailers or direct from Google's online store.

The WSJ says it's not clear when or where stores will open, and that Google may not implement the plan this year. Google has already experimented with physical stores, including pop-up Chromebook stores in London, but it hasn't followed Apple and Microsoft in creating standalone retail operations. If Google moves forward with the plans, it could have a lot more to show off than just Chromebooks; in addition to its online services, Google has ramped up its focus on hardware, introducing its own branded Android phones, tablets, and experimental products like the Nexus Q media streamer. Google has yet to confirm its retail plans.