A spokesman for Sam's Club, the retail warehouse division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., confirmed that it's eliminating 700 positions at its U.S. clubs as the company continues to explore ways to control costs and improve efficiency in its operations. Jobs to be eliminated include club-level accounting employees, whose jobs Sam's Club is automating. The employees affected by the change, however, will have opportunities to remain with the retailer in other positions, according to the company.
"We want as many associates as possible to be able to stay with the company," according to a statement from Sam's Club. "We're already working to help them find other roles within their club or find employment opportunities at other Sam's Club locations or Wal-Mart stores. We're providing 60 days paid notice to each associate impacted. Additionally, we're providing severance pay and benefits for eligible associates."
Total Retail's Take: It's not surprising to see Sam's Club make the decision to automate this type of work and lay off some associates responsible for it, especially after Wal-Mart made a similar move last year. More specifically, last September, Wal-Mart eliminated 7,000 back-office jobs across its stores in the U.S., as it expanded a pilot program aimed at improving efficiency. Those eliminated jobs covered accounting roles as well as invoicing positions as the retailer decided to automate and centralize those operations. Wal-Mart said at the time there were typically two or three employees in those back-room roles at each of its 4,600 stores. What's more, it's not surprising to see automation seep into the retail space and turn it on its head; automation continues to reshape multiple industries, including retail.