Walmart Is Closing Several Non-Performing Stores and Laying off Workers Amid Sales Slump

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: May 14, 2024

Many companies have found it difficult to continue operating brick-and-mortar locations in recent years. The rise of theft, employee wages, and low foot traffic has caused many popular businesses to focus more on their online retail operations.

Walmart has recently closed several stores due to an ongoing issue retaining in-person sales, laying off thousands of employees in the process. 

Large Retailers Turning to Online Sales

Many legacy retailers, such as Macy’s, JCPenney, Express, and Lululemon, have been faltering at their in-person locations. Stand-alone stores and large malls have all seen a reduction in foot traffic in recent years.

The outside of a large store front covered in grafitti

Source: Wikipedia Commons

The Covid-19 pandemic seemed to wrap up shopping once and for all. Since then, large stores have shuttered their doors and focused more on online sales.

Grocery Shopping Has Also Turned to the Online Realm

Today, more than one-third of all Americans purchase groceries online and have them delivered to their front doors.

Two brown grocery bags filled with apples, bagels, flat bread, bananas, and a green cabbage

Source: Maria Lin Kim/Unsplash

Consumer shopping behavior has changed drastically in recent years. Companies with a strong online presence and quick delivery options thrive the most. More than 230 million people pay for Amazon Prime worldwide, showing other retailers that customers desire clickable buying options.

Walmart Recently Shuttered Clinic Operations

In addition to 24 Walmart locations closed in 2023, the company shuttered 51 healthcare centers nationwide.

The exterior of a Walmart store, featuring the company's signature logo with large white letters and a yellow asterisk symbol on a brick wall

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The company opened clinics in several states in 2020 but failed to make the new venture profitable in a post-Covid world. The closures left a massive gap in healthcare access in many rural and remote communities.

Many Underperforming Stores Located in California

In addition to multiple locations closing in Illinois and Washington D.C., four particularly underperforming stores were in sunny California.

An aerial view of a large department store with a black roof and a large parking lot filled with cars

Source: Public Domain/Wikipedia Commons

Locations in San Diego, El Cajon, West Covina, and Granite Bay were all shut down due to a lack of sales and operational issues.

More Discount Stores Closing in California

The demographic of shoppers is shifting dramatically in the Golden State. Places like Walmart and 99 Cent stores are losing in popularity.

The exterior of a 99 Cent Store with a going out of business banner and many cars in the parking lot

Source: Busition/Wikipedia Commons

Instead, pricier retailers with exotic food choices, like Whole Foods and Erewhon, are thriving in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.


Walmart Execs Make a Statement

When questioned by the press, a company spokesperson announced, “We determined there is not a sustainable business model for us to continue.”

A man carries in an armful of groceries from the back of a hatch back SUV into the house

Source: Mick Haupt/Unsplash

The store closures clarify that the company doesn’t find in-person shopping profitable in the digital age.


Unknown How Many Team Members Will Be Let Go

The company has not announced how many team members will lose their jobs or whether some will transfer to new locations or shipment facilities.

Walmart employee cleaning a self-checkout

Source: Walmart Corporation

Each store has around 350 employees at each store, and many of them rely on Walmart as their main source of income.


Columbus, Ohio, Lost A Location

A location of the store in Columbus, Ohio, was announced to be closed in February of this year.

An image of a large Walmart store and its carpark

Source: Wikimedia

Execs noted that the store “failed to meet financial expectations.” The store was located on High Street, and the team ultimately decided to close the supercenter permanently despite serving the community for decades.


Auctioning Off Large Items

This week, Walmart plans to offload some of the bigger merchandise through a liquidation auction.

Exterior of a Walmart Supercenter store from the parking lot

Source: Adobe Stock

Oftentimes, auctions are the only way for companies to recoup lost money, even if they need to take a loss on expensive items. The alternative of shipping thousands of items to a new location is costly and not worth it.


Items That Customers Can Expect To See at Auction

The store is completely wiping out the inventory from the location, along with some items that keep the store running.

The interior of a large Walmart store is photographed

Source: Wikimedia

Anyone who visits the liquidation auction can expect to see large items like flat-screen TVs used for security in the store, along with anti-theft systems, cash registers, and stock carts.


Grafe Auction Will Hold Sales Through Friday

The company facilitating the auction, Grafe Auction, will hold the sale through Friday this week.

A hill overlooking a Walmart store in Virginia.

Source: Aaron F. Stone/Wikimedia

The company facilitating the auction, Grafe Auction, will hold the sale through Friday this week.