Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said Monday (June 29) the retail giant will reopen stores in the Chicago area that were damaged during George Floyd-related protests last month. McMillon said the decision to stay and invest in Chicago comes despite the stores operating at a loss.
“We have reflected on recent events and decided we want to stay. And not just stay, but expand our investment,” McMillon noted in a blog post on the retailer’s site.
Walmart operates four Supercenters and four Neighborhood Market locations in the greater Chicago area. McMillon said the stores operate at a loss collectively, but the retailer is not moving to raise prices just to offset costs. He said Walmart will open Walmart Health centers in Chicago stores as well as Walmart Academy training center to enhance the education of its employees in this region.
“Stores impacted by looting will be rebuilt through partnerships with local contractors, with ‘a priority given to minority-owned businesses,’ said McMillon, who estimated investment in reopening would total “tens of millions of dollars.”
He said Walmart’s eight stores in Chicago have operated at a “loss due to a combination of our sales, product margin and expenses.” He said there are no plans to cut workers or raise prices to save costs.
“Chicago, like cities across America, has seen its share of historic challenges these past months. And like the rest of the country, this great city is navigating a global health crisis while at the same time confronting the racism and discrimination that have perpetuated a set of systems that are all too often unjust. I’m encouraged by the diverse group of Americans who have mobilized to advance racial equity,” he said. “Like other businesses, some of our stores were damaged and, in order to protect our associates and customers, we temporarily closed many of our locations across the country.”
He said Walmart wants to return as a stronger and more supportive part of the Chicago community. The company and related foundation recently committed $100 million toward diversity efforts around the nation.
“We want to help support the tax base in the city. We want to see Chicago recover and thrive, and we want to be part of making that success happen. We want Chicago to be safe and successful. And we want to be your favorite store. So, we’re going to give this another try,” he said.
Walmart said one location has already opened, and others must undergo cleanup and construction which will mean one supercenter will reopen by the end of July and the others will open by the end of the year.