June 26, 2020
By Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Walmart
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.
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.
After these events, Mayor Lightfoot talked about the need for a “Herculean effort” to convince businesses not to disappear, and a Chicago Sun-Times headline read, “Reeling Chicago communities ask, ‘Who invests in us now?'”
We have reflected on recent events and decided we want to stay. And not just stay, but expand our investment. We want to return as a stronger and more supportive part of the community. We want our associates to have jobs and an opportunity to build careers. We want our customers to have access to the things they need, especially fresh food, at an everyday low price. We want to be productive members of your community and expand access to opportunity for the communities we serve. 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.
Within Chicago proper, we have four Supercenters and four Neighborhood Markets. Collectively, these stores operate at a loss due to a combination of our sales, product margin and expenses. We could raise prices to offset some of those costs, but that’s not what we normally do. So, we’ll work towards reducing these losses without raising prices or impacting associate wages and hours. After a few years, if it’s not working, we may have to revisit these decisions again, but that’s not what we hope for or plan on. We want to serve you and build a successful business in Chicago.
It will take us a little while to repair the stores and get them ready to open. We are excited to reopen them with an expanded offering of services, in addition to the assortment of products we have been providing.
- We will open new Walmart Health locations where we will offer quality and affordable health care to customers. As a company, we’re in a pilot phase of this concept and we want to try it here.
- We will build a Walmart Academy to support the growth and development of our associates. We will also look for ways the Academy can serve area students and adult learners to help enable them to meet their own academic and career goals.
- We will partner with local organizations, institutions and community leaders to expand job opportunities for those in the community who are most at risk.
- And, we will look for more ways to support community-based efforts around the store. For this, we need the community’s help and we invite you to bring ideas for how we can get involved to store management.
As we rebuild our stores and add Walmart Health locations and a Walmart Academy, we are committed to rebuilding with local contractors, with a priority given to minority-owned businesses. In total, we estimate our investment in reopening will be tens of millions of dollars.
As a company, we are also investing resources and developing strategies to increase fairness, equity and justice in aspects of everyday life. We committed to tackle some of these same issues through our new center for racial equity, which we’ve supported with a $100 million commitment, and we will make Chicago a critical part of that work.
Chicago will be an example of what’s possible when we leverage business, government and community organizations for the good of all. The work we’re doing now in Chicago and around the country is about people and their fundamental rights and dignity. The work is about our families and friends, our kids and grandkids. Ultimately, the work is about answering the question: What kind of world do we want to leave them? We are committed to living our values and to doing our part to serve the communities we call home.