Walmart, the largest private employer in the US, is set to lay off more than 2,000 workers from five of its fulfillment centers that cater to online orders. According to WARN filings, the job cuts will impact more than 1,000 jobs in Texas, 600 in Pennsylvania, 400 in Florida, and 200 in New Jersey. The move comes weeks after Walmart warned of a tough year ahead. Although the company stated that the layoffs were necessary to prepare for future customer needs, it remains unclear whether more are forthcoming.
Walmart said it is working with the affected associates to understand what career options are available at other Walmart locations. As the retail giant struggles with squeezed margins and inflation affecting its core lower-income shoppers, its recent earnings have warned investors to expect slower sales and profit growth. To retain store workers in a tight labor market for lower-wage industries, it plans to raise its average minimum wage from $12 to $14 an hour.
The retail industry has been significantly affected by the pandemic-induced economic downturn, leading to restructuring and cost-cutting measures. In the face of persistent labor shortages, traditional retailers are struggling to keep up with e-commerce giants like Amazon. Walmart’s layoff of over 2,000 workers could signal more difficult times ahead for the company and the retail industry. Walmart’s CFO, John Rainey, has expressed concern about the “pressured” consumer and taken a “cautious outlook on the rest of the year.”
While Walmart has not witnessed mass layoffs like its e-commerce rival Amazon, which has eliminated about 30,000 jobs across several divisions since the start of the year, the future of major retailers in this evolving landscape remains uncertain. Adapting to the changes in the industry has become essential for survival.