Walmart is trimming its corporate back office in an effort to streamline its retail business.
Bloomberg reported on Thursday morning that Walmart is laying off hundreds of corporate workers in a bid to increase productivity and efficiency. The departments that will be most heavily hit will include store planning, logistics and real estate, according to the report.
In a subsequent CNBC report, Walmart confirmed the job cuts but would not detail how many employees would be laid off. Arkansas Money & Politics has reached out to Walmart’s communications team for independent confirmation but has not heard back as of press time.
Walmart spokesperson Jami Lamontagne told Arkansas Money & Politics that the Bentonville retailer was creating an “omnichannel organization” with its domestic business. “We are continuing on our journey to create an omni-channel organization within our Walmart U.S. business and we’re making some additional changes this week. Our customers want to have a seamless experience whether they’re shopping in our stores, using our app or shopping online at http://walmart.com. Our goal is to deliver that experience while increasing innovation, speed and productivity,” she said.
Walmart U.S. president and CEO John Furner will likely address the job eliminations and restructuring on Thursday afternoon. Lamontagne said that Walmart would be sharing more information “after we’ve completed our communication with associates.”
These job eliminations come in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has almost universally had a negative impact on business. However, Walmart has remained open during this time.
The Bloomberg report attributes the elimination in the store planning and real estate divisions as “an acknowledgement that Walmart is simply not opening many new stores in the U.S. anymore…” According to Walmart’s website, the retailer has 5,352 total retail stores as of April 30, 2020 with 3,569 of these being Walmart Supercenters. Of the remaining number, 376 are Walmart Discount Stores, 686 are Neighborhood Markets, eight are Convenience Stores, 114 are Small Formats and 599 are Sam’s Clubs.
According to online statistical analysis website Statista, the number of U.S. Walmart stores has been trending downward recently. There were store gains from 2012 to 2015 before the number of physical stores began plateauing. In 2012, there were 3,868 stores (counting just Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Discount Stores), which jumped to 4,005 in 2013 and to 4,203 in 2014. This number increased even higher in 2015 to 4,516. However, the number only increased by 58 in 2016 to 4,574 and increased to 4,672 in 2017. Walmart stores grew by 99 in 2018 to 4,761. However, there were only eight new stores added in 2019. As of January 31, there were only 4,756 Walmart stores, a decrease of 13 stores. Based on the figures provided by Walmart for April 30, there are just 4,631 Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Discount Stores, as counted by Statista.
As of press time, Walmart’s stock is down by approximately 0.86 percent, or $1.13 per share. It is trading at $129.56 as of 10:50 a.m.