Walmart shutters 269 stores

Eleven Walmart Expresses closed in the Bentonville area today adding to the total 269 stores closed worldwide since the beginning of January.

Four hundred and fifty employees were laid off at Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. as “part of a plan to increase its competitive edge,” according to USA Today.

“Approximately 16,000 associates will be impacted, including around 10,000 in the U.S.,” Doug McMillon, Walmart CEO and President, said. “More than 95 percent of the stores closing in the U.S. are within 10 miles on average of another Walmart, and the hope is that these associates will be placed in nearby locations.”

McMillon said, “While difficult, I believe these changes will help us become a more nimble organization that serves customers better,” in a memo to USA Today.

“Even with today’s actions, Walmart will continue to invest in its future, with plans to open more than 300 new stores worldwide over the coming year,” McMillon said.

Although those laid off will receive 60 days pay and severance if eligible, former John Brown University student, Emily Cade said it does not comfort the loss of her father’s job.

“They are doing whatever they can to come out of this without looking like the bad guys. Walmart is definitely close to the hearts of many of those who have grown up in Northwest Arkansas. So they definitely don’t want any blemishes on their records with long time customers,” Cade said.

Cade’s father worked as the director of Global Shared Services at the David Glass Center in Bentonville until Walmart laid him off.

“These layoffs are sporadic. After investing in a company for years upon years, one should be able to feel a sense of safety. Instead, there are people out there worrying about whether they will have jobs or not,” Cade said.

When asked whether Walmart was closing stores because of its recent investment in wages, McMillon replied, “Not at all. This is about managing our portfolio smartly.”

Hazeley Pyle, a University student and Walmart sales associate, disagreed, saying that while the wage increases were beneficial, Walmart is “now trying to get that money back by closing down the stores.”

However, Pyle said that Walmart is clearly trying to improve its operations. “They changed a few rules like attendance … just to improve the work flow and make the store a better place,” Pyle said.

Cade sees the changes as a detriment. “I personally believe that Walmart wanted to get rid of the old and in with the new, and that included people,” Cade said.

“New is good and change and growth are great, but if you’re hurting thousands of people in the process, is it really growth?” Cade questioned.