Walmart has “adjusted staffing levels” at fulfillment centers “in select markets,” a company spokesperson said by email.
The layoffs number in the hundreds. At minimum, the retail giant is laying off 201 workers at a facility in Pedricktown, New Jersey, according to a WARN notice filed with the state.
Other facilities affected are in Fort Worth, Texas; Chino, California; Davenport, Florida; and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, according to reporting from Reuters. Walmart didn’t immediately respond to follow-up questions about those facilities or the total number of employees affected.
Walmart, which for years has been notching billions of dollars in profits annually with a retail business centered on thousands of brick-and-mortar stores across the U.S., in recent years has been chasing Amazon online.
It has been dawning on many retailers and brands that e-commerce is an expensive way to sell to shoppers, and several online pure-players have turned to wholesale partnerships with legacy players or opened stores of their own. Amazon itself has leaned on its profitable AWS cloud services business to balance out its less profitable retail business.
Moreover, while e-commerce sales surged at the height of the pandemic, that growth has slowed as consumers have returned to shopping in stores and pulled back on discretionary purchases amid high inflation.
“Customer expectations are changing, and we are moving quickly to meet and exceed their needs,” Walmart said in its statement. “As demand grows, we are maximizing our network of stores and fulfillment centers, to deliver items for online customers, when and how they want them.”
It’s unclear whether Walmart is downsizing its fulfillment center capacity because it plans to fulfill more orders from stores or because it anticipates fewer online orders from customers. Walmart didn’t immediately respond to questions about those possibilities.