Fewer choices: Walmart plans to close store on northwest side of South Bend by April 21
SOUTH BEND ― Walmart plans to close its store at 3701 Portage Road by April 21.
“This decision was not made lightly and was reached only after a thorough review process,” Felicia McCranie, spokeswoman, said via email. “We have 5,000 stores across the U.S. and unfortunately, some do not meet our financial expectations.
“While our underlying business is strong, this specific store hasn’t performed as well as we hoped,” she continued. “There is no single cause for why a store closes and our decision is based on several factors, including historic and current financial performance, and is in line with the threshold that guides our strategy to close underperforming locations.”
Food desert:Grocery store's closure plans hit South Bend's Near Northwest Neighborhood hard
The retailing chain has been closing a handful of stores across the U.S. in recent years, citing poor performance without elaborating, according to Business Insider.
The pharmacy at the store will also close on April 21. The pharmacy staff will work with customers to transfer prescriptions to another location, according to the company.
The city plans to reach out to Walmart and is willing to support a new retailer for the space.
“We are reaching out to Walmart to understand what went into this decision and how this will impact employees,” said Caleb Bauer, executive director of community investment for the city. “The city will be a willing partner in finding and supporting a new retailer for that location.”
Customers coming to the store on Tuesday evening were surprised to learn that the store already had reduced its hours, now closing at 7 p.m. daily, and that returns and money service have been eliminated. A security guard was at the door to ensure no one was getting in.
One customer in the parking lot blamed the closing on store theft and indicated she would simply start shopping at another store. Gregory and Ruth Runnels of Niles said they've noticed that the store has been going downhill in recent years with longer lines and less attention to cleaning.
"We waited a half hour to check out," Gregory Runnels said.
The Runnellses wondered whether the store was sliding because of the inability to get enough workers, which has been plaguing many retailers, restaurants and other businesses since the pandemic. "But I hate to see a big store close," Ruth Runnels said.
The company said it was hopeful that store employees would remain with the company by transferring to another nearby store. Walmart operates a Sam’s Club and Walmart in Mishawaka, a Walmart on Ireland Road in South Bend and another on South 11th Street in Niles, among other locations.
The Meijer store, across from the Walmart on Portage, would be the most immediate grocery store to fill the needs of residents on the northwest side of the city.
This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: Walmart closing South Bend store by April 21, citing poor performance