It’s the traditional story of a big corporation driving local competition out of town. This time, though, it’s ends with the additional blow of the corporation eventually leaving when their endeavors don’t prove fruitful enough. Earlier this month, Walmart announced the closure of 269 stores globally. That includes 154 locations in the U.S., 29 of which are in Texas. This news comes after an October announcement that the company was doing an “active review” of their portfolio.
“Actively managing our portfolio of assets is essential to maintaining a healthy business,” Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Stores, said in a statement. “Closing stores is never an easy decision, but it is necessary to keep the company strong and positioned for the future. It’s important to remember that we’ll open well more than 300 stores around the world next year. So we are committed to growing, but we are being disciplined about it.”
That discipline is mostly focused on Walmart Express—the smaller stores the company had been piloting since 2011. According the NBC DFW, Walmart Express stores didn’t really catch on because they essentially served the same purposes of Walmart’s larger stores—but were just smaller. In Texas, Walmart is closing four Supercenters and five Neighborhood Markets, but the twenty shuttered Express stores make up the bulk. All but one of those Texas locations will completely shut down by Thursday.
The Walmart Express stores seem to have been the format of choice for smaller towns in Texas. According to Walmart, 95 percent of the closed locations are within an average of 10 miles of another Walmart. Unfortunately, that still means that some residents will have to drive out of town for the nearest Walmart, which is sometimes the only available option. In at least two towns, Godley and Italy, residents aren’t just losing their only Walmart, but also their only grocery store and pharmacy. After Thursday, the nearest Walmart to Godley will be a twenty-minute drive out of town to nearby Cleburne.
This Walmart is Godley's only grocery store. When it closes its doors on 1/28, city will also lose its only pharmacy pic.twitter.com/3k7dFsdnFl
— Gilma Avalos (@GilmaAvalos) January 19, 2016
Italy is in a similar bind. The three nearest Walmart locations are also about twenty-minutes away, and the loss of the only grocery store has distressed even the mayor.
“If I could speak to the CEO, I would absolutely ask him to reconsider,” Italy Mayor Steven Farmer told NBC DFW, “because this store does mean a lot to our community.”
Even with this news of closures, Walmart still has plans to open more stores in the upcoming year. Those plans include about 50 to 60 Supercenters and 85 to 95 Neighborhood Markets domestically in the fiscal year that begins on February 1. Whether any of them will be opened in the Texas towns left without a grocery store after Thursday has yet to be announced.