Sam's Club, the membership warehouse owned by retail giant Walmart, is shutting down or converting 63 stores, a Walmart official confirmed Thursday.
Of those locations, about 50 will be going out of business for good. Roughly 10 of those locations are closing their doors as soon as Thursday, while the remainder will be shuttered over the next three to four weeks, the Walmart official said.
Additionally, about 10 to 12 Sam's Club stores are slated to be closed temporarily as the retailer converts them to regional distributional centers to help ramp up its ability to fulfill online purchases. While those stores will reopen in a new role, workers previously employed at those locations are not necessarily guaranteed a role in the new positions.
In a note, Sam's Club president and CEO John Furner said that there were stores hindering business at other locations, or that were operating in areas that were not seeing the population growth that had been expected.
"We’ve decided to right-size our fleet and better align our locations with our strategy,'' he wrote. "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.''
News of the closures began to slowly trickle out Thursday. Notices filed with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development revealed that three Sam's Club stores in Indiana would be shutting down, while news outlets across the U.S. began reporting possible closures in cities from Memphis to Atlanta to Houston.
The company would not immediately say the specific locations that will be affected by the closures, or the number of employees that would be impacted. But at the three Indiana locations, 419 employees will be affected according to state filings. And in his note, Furner confirmed that the first of the stores to transition into a distribution center will be in Memphis.
Furner said that the company would try "to place as many associates as possible in new roles at nearby locations.''
The closures came the same day that Walmart said it would lift the hourly minimum wage in the U.S. to $11 and giving out bonuses of up to $1,000.
Contributing: Justin L. Mack, Indy Star
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