Walmart’s Sam’s Club abruptly shuttered locations in several states, with some employees learning of the closures as they arrived for work. But the membership-only retailer said it had closed the stores following a “review,” according to news from Reuters.
“After a thorough review of our existing portfolio, we’ve decided to close a series of clubs and better align our locations with our strategy,” the retailer wrote in a tweet. “Closing clubs is never easy, and we’re committed to working with impacted members and associates through this transition.”
The tweet comes after several local news outlets across the country — in Arizona, Alaska, Texas, New Jersey, Indiana and New York — reported the sudden closures. In all, Business Insider reported that Sam’s Club was closing 63 brick-and-mortar stores and laying off thousands of employees.
Despite the abrupt closures, the stores won’t completely close to customers. Pharmacies at the affected locations will stay open for at least two weeks, as the company works with the board of pharmacies in each state where it has decided to shutter stores.
Earlier in the day, Sam’s Club’s parent company, Walmart, announced that it would raise entry-level wages for U.S. hourly employees to $11 an hour in February as it reaps the benefits from last month’s tax overhaul.
“We’re raising our starting wage for all hourly associates in the U.S., expanding benefits & offering a one-time bonus,” the retailer said in a tweet.
Walmart’s shares rose 0.5 percent in afternoon trading Thursday, while shares of competitor Costco Wholesale Corp were up 2.7 percent.
The closures come as Sam’s Club seeks to gain more control over costs and improve efficiency in its operations. Last year, the retailer announced it would cut 700 back-office retail positions at its U.S. brick-and-mortar locations. In particular, club-level accounting employees were affected, as the retailer automated more of their work through software.