Walmart Cuts Staffing Levels at Some E-Commerce Warehouses

Cites Automation; Will Offer Relocation or Severance to Affected Employees
A package on a conveyor belt at a Walmart fulfillment center.
A package on a conveyor belt at a Walmart fulfillment center. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg News)

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Walmart Inc. is cutting staffing levels at some e-commerce fulfillment centers in the U.S. as the nation’s largest private-sector employer steps up investment in automation.

The retailer is working with the affected employees to find other positions at Walmart, according to a company statement March 23. In a regulatory filing, Walmart provided advance notice of the cuts to 201 employees in Pedricktown, N.J. Reuters reported earlier that the potential impact extends to hundreds of other employees in California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas.

The move “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,” the company said in an emailed statement.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based company is paring jobs as it bolsters warehouse automation to reduce the cost of handling online purchases. The retailer has so far avoided the kind of mass layoffs underway at rival Inc., which this week said it would slash payrolls by another 9,000 jobs in addition to 18,000 recent cuts.

Walmart said last month it would close three of its 11 U.S. technology hubs and require affected workers to relocate. Employees who decide to quit will receive severance, the company said at the time.

The retailer raised its starting hourly wage to $14 from $12 earlier this year. Walmart has about 1.6 million U.S. employees.

Walmart stock has fallen 1.6% this year through March 22, while the S&P 500 index advanced 2.5%.

Walmart ranks No. 2 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest private carriers in North America.

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