By Ryan Velez
Earlier this week, a minimum wage increase and bonuses for Walmart employees was hailed by some as a victory of the recent Republican tax plan. However, the money apparently had to come from somewhere, as Business Insider reports that Walmart quietly closed 63 Sam’s Club stores across the country. The company made a formal announcement after reports of closures across the country popped up on Thursday. 9,400 employees will be affected.
Sam’s Club CEO John Furner notified employees of the closures in a company-wide email sent Thursday.
“After a thorough review, it became clear we had built clubs in some locations that impacted other clubs, and where population had not grown as anticipated,” Furner said in the email. “We will be closing some clubs, and we notified them today. We’ll convert some of them into eCommerce fulfillment centers — to better serve the growing number of members shopping with us online and continue scaling the SamsClub.com business.” Customers will be refunded their annual membership fees, and 10 of the stores will be converted into e-commerce fulfillment centers.
Some Sam’s Club employees were informed of the closings via notices that were sent through FedEx on Thursday.
“FedEx showed up at my door with a package from Sam’s Club and I was thinking that maybe it was my W-2,” Nic Townsend, an employee of a Sacramento, California Sam’s Club, told Business Insider. “It was a letter saying they are closing down… I’m unsure of what to do I have a baby and a mentally sick mother. I’m lost. I’m heartbroken. I’m scared.”
Shoppers were also caught off-guard. “I went to the Orange, Connecticut location, and was shocked to learn from an employee, crying in the parking lot, that the club was closing permanently on the 26th and was closed the whole day today,” Cynthia Garofalo told Business Insider on Thursday. “It really caught everyone off guard, especially the people that needed to pick up their prescriptions. What a mess.”
Notably, three of the stores are in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from the summer hurricanes. “The Barceloneta, Puerto Rico store closed without notice — over 950 people without jobs,” Eliezer Cabrera, a Sam’s Club shopper, told Business Insider. “This is the last thing Puerto Rico needed after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.”