By JACK WEATHERLY
Six Wal-Mart Express stores in Mississippi are among 154 of various Wal-Mart models in the United States that the retailer will soon close.
All 102 Express stores, a pilot program launched in 2011, will close Jan. 28, Wal-Mart said in a release on Friday.
The Express stores in Mississippi are located in Belmont, Mantachie, Sardis, Walnut, Derma and Nettleton the retailer said. One hundred and eighty jobs will be eliminated.
The average hourly wage in Mississippi is $13.31 for full-time, permanent employees in all store brands, according to the company in response to a question.
“We opened two new stores in Mississippi in 2015 and are projected to open six more this year. All store openings in 2015 and 2016 are providing close to 515 jobs,” Anne Hatfield, Walmart spokeswoman, said in an email.
“Whether with Walmart or elsewhere, the company’s objective is to help all associates find their next job opportunity and we will be giving impacted associates priority for open positions at nearby stores. We have a strong track record of finding jobs for associates who want to transfer to nearby stores and we will always continue to support and invest in our people.
“More than 95 percent of the closed stores in the U.S. are within 10 miles on average of another Walmart, and the hope is that these associates will be placed in nearby locations. Where that isn’t possible, the company will pay associates until Feb. 10 and then an additional 60 days after that point. We’ll also provide severance to associates who have been with the company for more than a year.”
The closings will leave Mississippi with 83 stores: 62 Supercenters, 10 Neighborhood Markets and four discount stores. There are also seven Sam’s Clubs. As of November, the retailer employed 24,500 in the state, permanent full-time and part-time, according to its website.
Wal-Mart is closing 269 stores worldwide.
The stores being shuttered account for a small fraction of the company’s 11,000 stores worldwide and less than 1 percent of its global revenue.
The announcement comes three months after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. CEO Doug McMillon told investors that the world’s largest retailer would review its fleet of stores with the goal of becoming more nimble in the face of increased competition from all fronts, including from online rival Amazon.com.
“No doubt our business has become both large and broad,” McMillon told analysts in October. “It is more important now than ever that we evaluate our portfolio.”
Wal-Mart operates 4,500 in the United States. Its global work force is 2.2 million, 1.4 million in the U.S. alone.
Wal-Mart has warned that its earnings for the fiscal year starting next month will be down as much as 12 percent as it invests further in online operations and pours money into improving customers’ experience.
Wal-Mart Express marked the retailer’s first entry into the convenience store arena. The stores are about 12,000 square feet and sell essentials like toothpaste. But the concept never caught on as the stores served the same purpose as Wal-Mart’s larger Neighborhood Markets: fill-in trips and prescription pickups.
Also covered in the closures are 23 Neighborhood Markets, 12 supercenters, six discount stores and four Sam’s Clubs. None of those will be in Mississippi. Seven stores in Puerto Rico will be closed.
Wal-Mart will now focus in the U.S. on supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, the e-commerce business and pickup services for shoppers.
The retailer is closing 60 loss-making locations in Brazil, which account for 5 percent of sales in that market. Wal-Mart, which operated 558 stores in Brazil before the closures, has struggled as the economy there has soured. Its Every Day Low price strategy has also not been able to break against heavy promotions from key rivals.
The remaining 55 stores are spread elsewhere in Latin America.
Wal-Mart said that it’s still sticking to its plan announced last year to open 50 to 60 supercenters, 85 to 95 Neighborhood Markets and 7 to 10 Sam’s Clubs in the U.S. during the fiscal year that begins Feb. 1. Outside the U.S., Wal-Mart plans to open between 200 to 240 stores.
BEFORE YOU GO…
… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.
If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.Click for more info