Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, is shrinking its workforce as many retailers plan on roughly flat or declining sales. Inflation and the shift back to services is taking a bite out of sales of goods, particularly after a Covid pandemic-fueled spending boom.
Walmart’s e-commerce rival, Amazon, announced 9,000 job cuts on Monday, following 18,000 layoffs in January. Amazon has also closed, canceled and delayed the opening of new warehouses, as some online sales shifted back to stores. Another competitor, Target, plans to cut up to $3 billion in total costs over the next three years, but CFO Michael Fiddelke said at a February investor day that the company is “not backing away from investments in our team and guest experience.”
A spokesperson for Walmart confirmed it was cutting jobs at fulfillment centers. In a statement, the company said it made the cuts “to better prepare for the future needs of customers.”
“This decision was not made lightly, and we’re working closely with affected associates to help them understand what career options may be available at other Walmart locations,” the statement said.
The company confirmed to Reuters that it is eliminating hundreds of jobs at five fulfillment centers in Pedricktown, New Jersey; Fort Worth, Texas; Chino, California; Davenport, Florida; and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It told Reuters it was reducing its workforce because of a reduction or elimination in evening and weekend shifts.
About 200 workers will be affected at the southern New Jersey facility, according to a notice filed with the state.
Walmart anticipates slower sales growth and lower profits in the coming fiscal year. The company said last month that it expects same-store sales for its U.S. business to grow between 2% and 2.5%, excluding fuel. That compares with 6.6% growth in the previous fiscal year.
The company expects adjusted earnings per share to range from $5.90 to $6.05, excluding fuel, for the fiscal year. That’s lower than the adjusted earnings per share of $6.29 for the past fiscal year.
Online sales have continued to grow, though at a slower pace than during the peak of the pandemic. E-commerce sales for Walmart’s U.S. business rose 12% in the most recent fiscal year, which ended Jan. 31. That compares with 11% growth in fiscal 2022 and 79% in fiscal 2021.