The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail giant revealed that roughly 7,000 desk jobs would be wiped out over the next several months in all of its 4,600 U.S. stores. Walmart said the decision is part of its continued efforts to cut costs and put more people on the shop floor, after a pilot program announced in June did away with roughly 1,500 accounting, invoicing and other behind-the-scenes tasks at 500 U.S. stores. At the time Walmart said it would consider the next phase if the first go-round was successful.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the shakeup and Walmart spokeswoman Deisha Barnett said most of the affected workers—the majority of whom are long-term employees and among the highest paid hourly workers in the company—will find customer-facing roles.
“We’ve seen many make smooth transitions during the pilot,” she said, referring to the stores that made the move this summer, though it’s not clear how many displaced workers were retained by that decision.
Walmart is said to employ about 1.5 million people in the U.S. and has been making several changes to its operations of late. The retailer introduced a new software system for scheduling staff at 650 stores in late July, which analyzes foot traffic and sales data in order to prioritize scheduling for peak hours, in addition to allowing some employees to choose what shifts they want. Last February, Walmart raised the average full-time hourly wage from $13 to $13.38 and from $10 to $10.58 for part-time employees.
Jobs affected by Thursday’s news will now be automated or handled at the Bentonville headquarters. Earlier this year, Walmart closed 269 underperforming stores in the U.S. and Latin America, cutting around 16,000 jobs.