(PatriotWise.com) – Retail giant Walmart has announced it is to close a dozen stores across nine states due to lack of profit. The company said there will also be staff layoffs and hundreds of employees will lose their jobs. Walmart has been closing stores across the country for some years, which it says have been “underperforming.” Outlets will now be shut down in Washington, DC, Florida, Illinois, Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota, Oregon, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Washington state. Around 200 people will lose their jobs in New Jersey, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania as weekend shifts in non-retail, e-commerce roles are cut or reduced.
Walmart is the largest private employer in the United States with more than 1.7 million staff members. Those due to lose their jobs in the e-commerce section of the company can be relocated to retail outlets, but the news still represents an ominous warning about the potential state of the US economy and the jobs market, particularly in light of investments in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation more broadly. CEO Doug McMillon said he is excited that Walmart is to invest heavily in automation over the coming year.
For the fiscal year 2022, Walmart allocated $14 billion for supply chain enhancement and automation in a bid to compete with Amazon and other online behemoths. “We weren’t the first place you go when it’s time to buy products online. We’re trying to change that obviously,” McMillon said.
The company expanded its online market by 69% in the first quarter of the 2022 fiscal year and expects that to continue to grow.
Walmart also said it is increasingly using artificial intelligence to predict customer demand. It is using data from its grocery pickup service to collect information on when people are likely to want a specific product and whether customers prefer that product delivered or picked up at a store. Representatives said the aim of increasing AI was to ensure that the supply chain worked more efficiently.
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