Collectively, these stores have not been profitable since the first one opened 17 years ago, costing the company "tens of millions of dollars a year" in losses, according to a press release. The company added that losses have nearly doubled over the last five years alone. (Related: Walmart cuts another 2,000 warehouse jobs following retail store closure announcement.)
The four locations chosen to close are the Neighborhood Markets in Kenwood, Lakeview and Little Village, as well as the Supercenter, Health Center and Walmart Academy in Chatham. The four stores will close their doors by April 16. The pharmacies in the locations will remain open for up to 30 days after the stores close.
"Over the years, we have tried many different strategies to improve the business performance of these locations, including building smaller stores, localizing product assortment and offering services beyond traditional retail," said the company in its press release. "As we looked for solutions, it became even more clear that in these stores, there was nothing leaders could do to help get us to the point where they would be profitable."
Walmart noted that the employees in these stores will be paid through Aug. 11 and will also have the option to transfer to other Walmart locations, including one of the four other Chicago stores, which will remain open.
"The remaining four Chicago stores continue to face the same business difficulties, but we think this decision gives us the best chance to help keep them open and serving the community," reads the statement.
Walmart claimed it has "tried many different strategies" to improve the performance of its stores in Chicago. Some of these strategies include building smaller stores, localizing product assortment and offering a variety of services beyond traditional retail.
Furthermore, Walmart said it has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the City of Chicago in the last couple of years, including $70 million on store upgrades and on building Walmart Health and Walmart Academy facilities.
"It was hoped that these investments would help improve our stores' performance," said Walmart. "Unfortunately, these efforts have not materially improved the fundamental business challenges our stores are facing."
Norma Gregory, a regular customer of the Chatham location, noted how disastrous this will be for the neighborhood since another big box retailer, Target, also recently left.
"I think it's terrible," she said. "We don't have anything in our community anymore."
"They made all these improvements, they put the Walmart Academy here, and it's just so hard to believe they are just going to close it all down, it's just going to be a huge vacant space," said Sharon Woods, another customer of the Chatham location.
Alderman Howard Brookins, who fought to get Walmart in the Chatham area and for it to reopen after it shut down following the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, expressed his "profound disappointment and sadness" over the closure.
Outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the announcement an "unceremonious" one that will leave residents in the affected neighborhoods without a means to affordably get their basic needs.
Lightfoot applauded that near-term arrangements will be made for the affected Walmart employees, but she also expressed concern over their career prospects in the long term. Lightfoot said she is hoping that the soon-to-be-closed stores get repurposed by their communities.
Walmart responded by saying it will work with local leaders to help find reuse options for their establishments "so they remain important parts of their communities."
Read more stories of America's economic downturn at MarketCrash.news.
Watch this clip from the Next News Network discussing Walmart's plan to lay off thousands of employees nationwide.