Walmart lays off company employees after slashing forecast

Exterior view of a Walmart store on August 23, 2020 in North Bergen, New Jersey

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Walmart confirmed on Wednesday that it began laying off company employees about a week after the company cut its profit outlook and warned that consumers had cut discretionary spending due to inflation.

In a statement to CNBC, the retail giant described the layoffs as a way to “better position the company for a strong future.”

Anne Hatfield, a Walmart spokeswoman, declined to say how many workers will be affected and which divisions have suffered cuts. She said Walmart was still hiring in growing parts of its business, including supply chain, e-commerce, health and wellness, and ad sales.

“Buyers change. Customers change,” she said. “We are restructuring to make sure we are aligned.”

The corporate layoffs were first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Walmart is the nation’s largest employer with nearly 1.6 million workers in the United States. The company, seen as a gauge of the national economy, spooked investors last week by cutting its quarterly and annual profit forecasts. The warning had a chilling effect on the retail sector, sending shares of companies such as Macy’s and Amazon plummeting and triggering a surge in the health of the American consumer.

Walmart said at the time that as shoppers spent more on necessities like groceries and fuel, they were jumping on higher-margin merchandise like clothing. He said he would have to cut prices to sell more of those items, especially as a glut of inventory was piling up in his stores and those of competitors like Target and Bed Bath and Beyond.

Later that same week, Best Buy cut its earnings and sales forecasts, saying it was seeing slowing demand for consumer electronics — pricey discretionary purchases that some shoppers may postpone.

This story is developing. Please check for updates.

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