WORRIED shoppers have expressed fears of potential ‘food deserts’ as Walmart gets set to close multiple locations in the coming weeks.
The popular department store is set to shutter locations in Illinois, New Mexico, and Wisconsin after the retailer’s CEO warned of closings amid “historically” high theft issue.
The closures will begin next Friday, February 17.
While Walmart leaders have explained that the closures are due to financial struggles, customers insist the stores closing are always busy.
“We have nearly 5,000 stores across the U.S. and unfortunately some do not meet our financial expectations. While our underlying business is strong, these specific stores haven’t performed as well as we hoped,” Walmart told CBS Chicago.
Next month, two stores in the Chicago suburbs are also shutting their doors.
Residents near the Homewood and Plainfield locations have expressed concerns over potential ‘food deserts’ that could pop up after their local Walmart’s close up.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines a food desert as an area that “has either a poverty rate greater than or equal to 20 percent or a median family income not exceeding 80 percent of the median family income in urban areas, or 80 percent of the statewide median family income in nonurban areas.”
The USDA identified around 6,500 food deserts between 2000 and 2006.
Walmart’s budget-friendly options and expansive inventory have provided a consistent source of groceries for many shoppers in the past.
Shoppers near the Homewood location told Fox 32 Chicago that Walmart’s absence will be a detriment to the community.
“This is a big hit to the community because, I mean, Walmart has great prices, honestly,” shopper Angel Johnson said. “I can’t believe a Walmart is closing.”
Even Rich Hofeld, the Homewood mayor spoke up about the closure.
“The Village was surprised by this news and will work with the property owner to fill the space as soon as possible,” he explained in a statement.
If various Walmart locations can not be quickly replaced, consumers may be forced to travel farther and spend more to get food, which could be exceptionally difficult amid rising inflation.