Exterior view of a Walmart store on August 23, 2020 in North Bergen, New Jersey
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Walmart confirmed on Wednesday that it has begun to lay off corporate employees about a week after the company slashed its profit outlook and warned consumers had pulled back on discretionary spending due to inflation.
In a statement to CNBC, the retail giant described the layoffs as a way to “better position the company for a strong future.”
Anne Hatfield, a Walmart spokesperson, declined to say how many workers will be affected and what divisions have experienced cuts. She said Walmart is still hiring in parts of its business that are growing, including supply chain, e-commerce, health and wellness and advertising sales.
“Shoppers are changing. Customers are changing,” she said. “We are doing some restructuring to make sure we’re aligned.”
The corporate layoffs were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Walmart is the largest employer in the country with nearly 1.6 million workers in the US The company, seen as a bellwether for the nation’s economy, spooked investors last week when it cut its outlook for quarterly and full-year profit guidance. That warning had a chilling effect on the retail sector, dragging down the stocks of companies including Macy’s and Amazon and sending up a flare about the health of the American consumer.
Walmart said at the time that as shoppers spent more on necessities like groceries and fuel, they were skipping over high-margin merchandise like apparel. It said it would have to cut prices to sell more of those items, especially as a glut of inventory piled up in its stores and at those of competitors like Target and Bed Bath and Beyond.
Later that same week, Best Buy cut its profit and sales forecast, saying it was seeing softening demand for consumer electronics — big-ticket, discretionary purchases that some shoppers can postpone.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.