PACOLET — A year after it opened, the Walmart Express in Pacolet will close Sunday, one of 154 Walmart stores in the United States being closed by the company by the end of January.
On Friday, the company announced that it was closing 102 Walmart Express stores including the one in Pacolet, 23 Neighborhood Market stores, 12 Supercenters, four Sam’s Club locations, six discount stores, and seven stores in Puerto Rico.
In announcing the closings, the company stated that 95 the stores being closed are within 10 miles of another Walmart.
Even as it was announcing the closings, Walmart announced that it plans to open at least 50 Supercenters and at least 85 Neighborhood Markets over the next 13 months. During that time Sam’s Club plans to open seven new stores as well.
A total of 10,000 Walmart associates will be impacted by the closings. The company stated that, given the proximity of the locations being closed to other Walmart facilities, it hopes to place the associates affected by the closings at the other stores.
Where that is not possible, the company stated it will provide those associates with 60 days of pay and, if they are eligible, severance pay, as well as resume and interview skills training. It further states that, whether they will be with Walmart or another employer, the company is committed to help all of its associates find another job opportunity.
The Pacolet store was part of the Walmart Express pilot program launched by the company in 2011. It opened in January 2015.
In addition to the stores being closed in the United States, Walmart is also closing 115 stores overseas including 60 recently closed in Brazil. The remainder of the stores being closed overseas are also located in Latin America and, like the stores being closed in Brazil, are described by the company as losing money. A total of 6,000 Walmart associates will be impacted by the closings in Brazil and the rest of Latin America.
Walmart’s decision was criticized by Jess Levin, Communications Director, Making Change at Walmart, who pointed out that the closings come just one year after the company touted its one billion dollar investment in its workers.
Levin raised the possibility that the closings announced Friday could be just the beginning, sending a “chilling message” to its associates that they could be next. He said that “with no one standing up for them, that is no doubt the reality.”
Levin called on Walmart associates to “work together” to change the company “for the better. Clearly, the livelihoods of all Walmart employees depend on it.”
The closings are the result of a portfolio review the company launched in 2015 that involved Walmart’s 11,600 stores around the world. The company states that the closings represent less than one percent of its global square footage and revenue are part of its efforts to carry out a program of disciplined growth in the future.
“Actively managing our portfolio of assets is essential to maintaining a healthy business,” said Doug McMillon, president and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. “Closing stores is never an easy decision, but it is necessary to keep the company strong and positioned for the future. It’s important to remember that we’ll open well more than 300 stores around the world next year. So we are committed to growing, but we are being disciplined about it.”