Walmart just announced it would be closing half of its Chicago-area stores this weekend.
In a statement released this week, the mega-retailer disclosed that it would be closing four “underperforming” Chicago locations. They said these stores struggle to turn profits and lose “tens of millions of dollars a year.”
The chain plans to keep four other Chicago stores operating but admitted these stores too face the same difficulties. Now, employees at the shuttered stores are asked to relocate to other locations and locals are upset with the loss of their local stores. Here’s the latest:
Walmart Closes Half Its Chicago Stores
With the latest announcement, seven Chicago-area stores will have closed in Illinois this year alone. Walmart's official statement revealed that their collective Chicago footprint has "not been profitable since [they] opened the first [store] nearly 17 years ago." Not only do these stores lose tens of millions of dollars a year, but the chain admitted their annual losses nearly doubled in just the last five years.
Closures aren't just happening in Illinois, either—Walmart stores across the country in Oregon, Wisconsin, Florida, and New Mexico have shuttered in the past year.
Walmart said that they have "tried many different strategies" to improve the business in Chicago, which included testing smaller stores and "localizing product assortment."
"It was hoped that these investments would help improve our stores’ performance," the letter wrote. "Unfortunately, these efforts have not materially improved the fundamental business challenges our stores are facing."
Walmart affirmed that there was simply nothing left to do to ensure profitability in the stores, even when working with public leaders. Closures were the only answer.
Mayor Says Residents Will Lose 'Basic Needs' Without Accessible Stores
Many point out that the store closures will lead to major deficits in communities, especially in those locations where grocery stores are already scarce.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot detailed that she is "incredibly disappointed" that the company will be closing locations on the south and west sides of the city.
"Unceremoniously abandoning these neighborhoods will create barriers to basic needs for thousands of residents," she penned. "While near-term arrangements will be made for workers, I fear that many will find that their long-term opportunities have been significantly diminished."
Closures Will Displace Workers
While Walmart said their employees are the "priority" during this transition, workers will certainly be displaced.
Walmart is allowing all workers to transfer to any Walmart or Sam’s Club facility, but of course, with four stores closing, it may be hard to find a nearby location.
Regardless, all associates will still be paid until Aug. 11, unless they transfer locations. In the case employees cannot relocate to another location, Walmart says "eligible" associates will be entitled to severance benefits.
Locals Protest Store Closures
Since the news broke, local shoppers on Chicago's west side took to the streets on Friday to protest the upcoming closure, as reported by ABC 7 Chicago. Residents state there will be a massive void to affordable groceries with the impending closure.
"Oh my God, now where am I going to have to go," said one Little Village resident. "Once this Walmart closes, it's going to be a disservice to the community," another told the reporters.
People on Twitter echoed this sentiment, with one writing: "Where are people supposed to go shop now? This is sad."
Where are people supposed to go to shop now?! This is sad.
— Laura PiszczorRomano (@Iamalaxmom) April 11, 2023
Locals noted they depended on this Walmart for its walkability and affordable prices. They voiced that competing grocers in the area do not offer as competitive prices, making it hard for its low-income residents.
One protester said, "This community is a low-income community. A lot of senior citizens live here and have a fixed income, so we are pretty much trying to save every dollar that we have."
What Walmart Stores Are Closed?
The following Chicago stores will close to the public by this Sunday, April 16:
#5781 Chatham Supercenter, the Walmart Health Center, and the Walmart Academy, 8431 S. Stewart Ave.
#3166 Kenwood Neighborhood Market, 4720 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
#5645 Lakeview Neighborhood Market, 2844 N. Broadway St.
#5646 Little Village Neighborhood Market, 2551 W. Cermak Road
Walmart alerted customers that pharmacies in these closing locations will still remain open to serve patients for up to 30 days.
The below stores in the state already closed:
#6840 N. McCormick Blvd., Lincolnwood
#12690 S. Route 59, Plainfield
#17550 S. Halsted St., Homewood