Company cites "evolving" retail industry in closing stores


Susan Munoz / Journal 0620

CLINTON — Walmart Corporate office announced Wednesday it will close its Clinton Walmart store on July 20.

Walmart corporate director of communications Anne Hatfield told the Clinton Journal Wednesday morning that Clinton store employees would be paid through Aug. 31.  She said the company would help employees who want to remain with Walmart locate other positions in the company.

The pharmacy also will close on July 20.  Hatfield said they would help customers transfer their records to other pharmacies.

The Clinton Walmart opened in 1983 and is the smallest of the retailer's stores in Illinois, at about 35,000 square feet.

“The decision to close our Clinton store is not an easy one, but, as a company, we are committed to continuing our growth and investment in Illinois. We opened this store in 1983 and we are as proud today as we’ve ever been with how the store leadership and associates have served and contributed to the local community over the years. We are grateful to the customers who have given us the privilege of serving them in Clinton. We look forward to continuing to serve them at other area locations and online at," Hatfield said.

A Walmart of similar size and number of employees, which opened in 1982 in Edna, Texas, also will close on July 20.  The local Jackson County, Texas newspaper reported the reactions to the closure by local residents was much the same as in Clinton.

A Walmart in Corning, Ark. also will close July 20.

The stores slated for closure all opened about the same time and are about the same size, and the announcement of those closures also came on Wednesday.

While the Clinton Walmart closure has fueled a number of theories about why the company is closing the store, Walmart announced in January its plans for 2018, which includes the closure of 63 stores in the U.S.  

In 2017, Walmart closed 19 stores; in 2016 the company shuttered 269 stores, including the Walmart Express stores.

Its 2018 plan includes the closure of some stores and the planned opening of 90 stores, some of which eliminate the need for cashiers.  Walmart also has, in some instances, increased employee compensation.

"With all the change happening in retail today, it is more important than ever to make sure we are meeting customers’ evolving needs. That includes evaluating the performance of our store locations currently serving customers," Hatfield told the Journal on Thursday.  "At the same time, we are making substantial investments in our existing stores and significant investments in technology and innovation to help us better serve our customers and train our associates.  These are never easy decisions, but actively managing our portfolio is essential to maintaining a healthy business and keeping current with how customers want to shop today. This is something our leadership has discussed very openly."