Walmart announced a layoff of hundreds of workers at five of its e-commerce fulfillment facilities across the nation Thursday. The company urged affected employees to find a job at a different one of its facilities within 90 days.
Approximately 200 workers in Pedricktown, New Jersey, and hundreds of other employees in Fort Worth, Texas; Chino, California; Davenport, Florida; and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, were let go because of a reduction or elimination in evening and weekend shifts, a spokesperson told Reuters.
“Customer expectations are changing, and we are moving quickly to meet and exceed their needs,” a spokeswoman told the Washington Examiner. “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.”
“We recently adjusted staffing levels at our FC in select markets to better prepare for the future needs of customers. This decision was not made lightly, and we’re working closely with affected associates to help them understand what career options may be available at other Walmart locations,” she continued.
Although the layoffs are already taking effect, the employees will be paid for 90 days as they search for employment at other facilities. Some employees could even stay on the e-commerce side if they relocated to the stores in Lancaster, Texas, or Joliet, Illinois.
The announcement comes as economists cast uncertainty on the country’s economic future. Many experts are predicting the United States could enter a recession later this year. The uncertainty has already caused major layoffs at other retail giants, with the elimination of 17,456 other jobs in the industry. Amazon, Neiman Marcus, and Lidl are among the retailers cutting staff. However, Walmart is considered the largest private employer in the country, with over 1.7 million employees.
The layoffs also come as the company focuses heavily on automation. Walmart’s partnership with the automation company Knapp has already reduced the number of steps for employees processing e-commerce orders from 12 to five.