Walmart is cutting its losses in the Chicago market, announcing Tuesday it will close four of its eight stores in the city by April 16.
Employees at the shuttering locations — in the Chatham, Kenwood, Lakeview and Little Village neighborhoods — will be eligible to transfer to the remaining stores, the company said in a statement. Pharmacies will stay open for up to 30 days to accommodate customers.
“The decision to close a store is never easy,” company officials said in a statement. “The simplest explanation is that collectively our Chicago stores have not been profitable since we opened the first one nearly 17 years ago.”
The stores lose tens of millions of dollars a year, according to the company, a figure that nearly doubled in the last five years despite numerous strategies to boost performance, including building smaller stores, offering local products and building a Walmart Academy training center.
“Unfortunately, these efforts have not materially improved the fundamental business challenges our stores are facing,” the company said. “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.”
The closing locations:
— Chatham Supercenter, the Walmart Health center and the Walmart Academy, 8431 S. Stewart Ave.
— Kenwood Neighborhood Market, 4720 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
— Lakeview Neighborhood Market, 2844 N. Broadway St.
— Little Village Neighborhood Market, 2551 W. Cermak Road
The company said it would work with local leaders to find other uses for the buildings. It will donate the Walmart Academy to the community.
Remaining Walmart locations in Chicago:
— Walmart Supercenter, 4626 W. Diversey Ave.
— Walmart Supercenter, 4650 W. North Ave.
— Walmart Supercenter, 10900 S. Doty Ave.
— Walmart Neighborhood Market, 7535 S. Ashland Ave.
A coalition of elected officials representing South and West Side neighborhoods affected by the closures blasted Walmart's decision in a joint statement.
Shuttering the stores will worsen the food desert crisis, force senior citizens to travel further for their medications and increase the financial burden on families, said the group, which included state senators Mattie Hunter and Robert Peters, state reps Kam Buckner and Curtis Tarver, Ald. Pat Dowell and Alderman-Elect Lamont Robinson.
The officials were also outraged by the short notice given to employees, who "will now be forced to scramble to find a new job or risk not being able to put food on their tables," the statement read.
Walmart said employees will be paid through Aug. 11, unless they transfer to a different store location. After the 11th, eligible employees will receive severance benefits, the company said.
This article originally published on April 11 and has been updated.