ICYMI: Yesterday, Walmart unexpectedly announced plans to close ten percent, or 63, of its Sam’s Club locations throughout the country, with some stores actually closing as early as Thursday. The retailer plans to convert a portion of those stores into ecommerce fulfillment centers.
The early closures were, indeed, unexpected for some – allegedly many employees were not informed of the closings before heading to work on Thursday. Customers, too, were caught off guard, with many calling for refunds of their memberships on social media. The remaining stores on the list will continue to be open for several weeks before permanently closing their doors. A map of the closing store locations can be found below:
A full list of the closing locations can be found here.
So why is Walmart taking such drastic measures? Their Twitter feed says, “After a thorough review of our existing portfolio, we’ve decided to close a series of clubs and better align our locations with our strategy.” I think we can take a guess at what that means. For some time now, Walmart has been investing heavily in its digital business in order to compete more effectively with Amazon – driven by its acquisition of Jet.com in 2016 and underscored by its recent name change from Wal-mart Stores to just Walmart. Closing Sam’s Clubs locations and converting them to ecommerce distribution centers is a savvy play in their ongoing digital strategy. The goal is clear: figure out how to deliver bulk goods to customers efficiently and speedily… before Amazon does.