Walmart has begun closing more than a dozen stores in major cities in recent months, the latest being four locations in Chicago.
Located in the Chathem, Kenwood, Lakeview and Little Village neighborhoods, the four Walmart stores are part of a list of 19 closings in 11 states and Washington, D.C., slated for this year, reported Business Insider. Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported job cuts at the retail giant's e-commerce fulfillment centers in Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida and New Jersey, impacting over 2,000 workers.
The nation's largest employer said Tuesday the Chicago stores have collectively been losing tens of millions of dollars annually and have not been profitable since the first of the four opened almost 17 years ago. Walmart also said it tried several different business strategies to improve the performance at the locations, including investing $70 million in recent years.
"Unfortunately, these efforts have not materially improved the fundamental business challenges our stores are facing," the company said in a statement, adding that the stores will close for good on Sunday.
Walmart will still have four locations operating in Chicago after the Sunday closings, but the company said those remaining stores "face the same business difficulties." Closing four stores this week gives the surviving stores the best possible chance to remain open long-term, Walmart said.
"Major economic loss to our region"
"The decision to close a store is never easy," the company said. "The impact is greater than just closing a building. It affects people — people who work in, shop in and live in communities near our stores — and we never take that lightly."
The Walmart closings don't stop in the Windy City. Walmart closed two locations in Portland, Oregon, last month due to poor financial performance. Walmart also closed one location each in Milwaukee and Washington, D.C., citing the same reasons, though it did not disclose exactly how much money the locations have been losing.
Walmart this month also plans to shutter a location in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn, Minnesota. City Manager Reginald Edwards called the move a "devastating and a major economic loss to our region."
All told, Walmart plans to close 19 underperforming stores this year, including in Atlanta and Honolulu, Business Insider reported. CEO Doug McMillon told CNBC in December that Walmart could also close stores after a historic rise in thefts at certain locations.
The pending Chicago closures frustrated customers in the area, many of whom said Walmart was more than a place to buy food. The location in Chicago's Chatham neighborhood also contained a health center and a job skills and placement academy.
"We need the opportunity to shop in our neighborhood instead of having to drive so far away," shopper Cassandra Walker told CBS Chicago. "I hope our new mayor has something in mind [for the building] and it can be better — especially in our neighborhood."
for more features.