Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT) is an American institution that is nearly unparalleled in its reach. It employs a whopping 1.5 million Americans across the country, which accounts for just about one percent of the entire working population of the U.S. Wal-Mart layoffs 2017, however, have stripped many of those Americans of employment. From retail stores to Wal-Mart headquarters, thousands of workers have been cut from the world’s largest retailer.
Beyond the direct impact of job losses, in some smaller communities, Wal-Mart can sometimes be one of the primary employers in the area. Whenever a store falls on hard times, there’s potential that an entire community could suffer as a result. Between retail store layoffs and Wal-Mart home office layoffs, the company has culled thousands of people from its workforce this year alone.
Wal-Mart Eliminated Around 1,000 Corporate Jobs as Part of Restructuring
The Wal-Mart layoffs 2017 began in earnest when about 1,000 employees were cut loose in January as part of a developing strategy aimed at adapting Wal-Mart to the industry realities of e-commerce and new technology.
The cuts were broad but mainly targeted U.S. operations, including the human resources department as well as the technology and e-commerce divisions.
Like many retailers, Wal-Mart is undergoing a restructuring plan as it tries to contend with online shoppers and threats from companies like Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). Online retailers have long been siphoning away customers from traditional big-box retailers, leaving many former stalwarts floundering.
Wal-Mart has so far been able to adapt to the e-commerce market better than others, but the company is still looking to trim its workforce and tailor its business to the new technological demands.
With Wal-Mart downsizing employees, Bentonville job cuts were among some of the most plentiful. The Bentonville, Ark., headquarters has been the site of many recent cutbacks by the company.
Before the employee cuts in January, the company slashed as many as 7,000 back-office jobs in its stores. Some of that was due to automation via the introduction of cash recyclers that count money and other innovations.
“We need to manage expenses even better, which includes changing how we do work inside the company,” Chief Executive Doug McMillon said during an investor presentation in October 2016.
“We have a plan to win with customers and drive growth. We will be disciplined with our cost and capital as we do it.”
The plan, at the moment, is to moderate expectations and growth, it seems. Wal-Mart closed over 150 stores in the U.S. in January 2016, then in October 2016 said that new store openings would be slow for 2017.
The company has also stated that it would move some of its $11.0-billion annual budget towards boosting e-commerce sales, technology used in stores, and on customer service improvements.
Wal-Mart Eliminated 300 Jobs in Information Systems Division
The Wal-Mart layoffs 2017 in Bentonville did not stop with the 1,000 cuts in January, as the retailer looked to revamp its Information Systems division with approximately 300 employees shed.
The Wal-Mart ISD layoffs continue to represent the company’s struggles with technology and e-commerce as it looks to find the best way forward.
The company has also looked to outside acquisitions to help bolster the tech side of its business. In September 2016, Wal-Mart purchased Jet.com Inc., an at-the-time unprofitable e-commerce startup. The deal was valued at $3.3 billion. It was seen as another move in the company’s strategy to better integrate itself into the online market.
There are also reports that Wal-Mart may be outsourcing many of these jobs to third-party vendors that it works with in India. Wal-Mart has disputed this claim.
Wal-Mart Closing Stores Led to Around 300 Layoffs
As many as 300 employees were affected by two separate instances of Wal-Mart closing stores in 2017.
In Bristol, Pennsylvania, 197 employees were left without work as the company plans to shutter permanently on November 9.
The company operates 160 stores throughout the state, and the decision to close this one was based on a variety of factors including financial performance and Wal-Mart’s long-term plans.
“The decision to close our Bristol store is not an easy one but, as a company, we are committed to continuing our growth and investment in Pennsylvania,” the company said in a statement.
As mentioned at the outset, these types of Wal-Mart layoffs 2017 that derive from store closures can have far-reaching consequences for smaller communities.
Another Wal-Mart closure—this one in Little Rock—left about 100 employees without work.
“The decision to close the Cantrell Road Neighborhood Market is not an easy one, and is in no way, a reflection of the hard work and customer service provided by the leadership and associates at the store,” Anne Hatfield, Director of Communications for Walmart Public Affairs, said in a statement.
“As a company, we are committed to Arkansas, as evidenced by our recent announcement to stay true to our Arkansas roots and build a new corporate headquarters in Bentonville, and by the constant stream of innovations we test in our home markets in order to better serve today’s customers. We are grateful to the customers who have given us the privilege of serving them. We look forward to serving them at our nearby locations and online at walmart.com.”
Wal-Mart Laid Off 200 Employees from e-Commerce Division in California
In what has been a recurring theme for Wal-Mart layoffs 2017, the company made further cuts to its e-commerce division in January. The California layoffs were part of a Wal-Mart e-commerce job cuts plan.
Around 200 employees lost their jobs.
These Wal-Mart layoffs 2017 were made in conjunction with many of those cuts previously mentioned that took place in January and were focused on streamlining the company’s e-commerce division.
Wal-Mart Laid Off More Than 100 Employees in January 2017
The Wal-Mart January layoffs continued with another 100 employees slashed from headquarters and regional offices.
The move was made in an effort to protect profits for the retailing giant.
While the company has enjoyed a strong year on the stock market, per-share adjusted earnings for the fiscal year of 2018 (which began in February) are projected to remain flat compared to 2017.
Wal-Mart’s 3rd Round Layoffs at Corporate Office in Bentonville
The company racked up dozens more in Wal-Mart corporate job cuts, once again in an effort to streamline the company and better prepare it for the online present and future.
This marked the third round of Bentonville layoffs, with the company’s headquarters in flux following multiple Wal-Mart layoffs 2017.
Wal-Mart Eliminated Overnight Stocker Jobs from Hundreds of Stores
Wal-Mart’s smaller Neighborhood Market stores eliminated the position of overnight stocker, putting hundreds of jobs potentially at risk.
While these are not direct cuts—stockers were given the option to move to daytime shifts—this could lead to massive cuts should the workers be unable to rearrange their schedules.
Pay will also be reduced, as overnight shifts earned higher hourly wages.
Over 430 of the Neighborhood Market stores will be affected, according to the company.
“Wal-Mart Plans New Round of Job Cuts,” The Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2017.
“Wal-Mart cutting 300 jobs in information systems unit,” Retail Dive, April 5, 2017.
“Nearly 200 Lose Jobs in Bucks County Walmart Closure,” NBC10, October 18, 2017.
“Walmart Neighborhood Market closing in Little Rock,” KATV, October 5, 2017.
“Wal-Mart to cut 200 e-commerce jobs in California,” MarketWatch, January 24, 2017.
“Walmart Cutting Hundreds of Jobs In Latest Round of Layoffs,” Fortune, January 10, 2017.
“More corporate jobs cut at Wal-Mart’s home office to end the second fiscal quarter,” Talk Business & Politics, July 2017.
“Walmart Is Eliminating Overnight Stocker Jobs At Hundreds Of Stores,” BuzzFeed, September 19, 2017.