Sam's Club closes dozens of stores nationwide

Last Updated Jan 12, 2018 12:28 AM EST

Walmart (WMT) is closing dozens of Sam's Club stores nationwide, according to numerous media reports.

The retail giant announced late Thursday that it will shutter 63 of the stores, where member customers can buy products at discounted prices. Walmart said it will convert up to a dozen of those clubs into fulfillment centers for online orders. The other stores will be closed in the coming weeks. 

"We know this is difficult news for our associates, and we are working to place as many of them as possible at nearby locations," Sam's Club CEO John Furner said in a statement.

Walmart said it will provide support and resources for workers who are laid off, including 60 days pay and severance to eligible employees.

The closures affect stores in Alaska, New Jersey, upstate New York, Georgia, IllinoisIndiana, Ohio, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. In some locations, per social media, people showed up to work only to be told that their location was closing, with nearly no advance notice.

"Change is never easy, but we're making these decisions as part of running a healthy business," Furner said.

The chain, which competes with Costco (COST), has more than 650 locations employing more than 100,000 people, with an average of 175 employees per store, according to the company. 

Walmart will have 597 Sam's Club stores after the restructuring is complete.

The company drew criticism from people on Twitter who objected to the lack of notice about the closings.

The closures come on the same day that Walmart announced it was raising its minimum wage to $11 per hour.

On Thursday, the company was offering refunds on memberships as well as free 3-month extensions.