Walmart has announced plans to shutter more than 4,000 stores in southern states, including South Carolina, where the retail giant’s headquarters is located.
The announcement comes as the retailer is facing growing pressure from consumers and business owners to cut back on costs in an attempt to stem a widening recession.
The South Carolina retailer plans to close more than 5,000 retail locations this year.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement Thursday that “the retail environment in South Florida is rapidly deteriorating, and we cannot continue to compete in a rapidly changing marketplace.”
The company has faced a wave of boycotts over the past few weeks over a series of store closures.
The retailer said in October that it planned to shutter some of its stores in Florida, Georgia and Louisiana, as well as several other states.
Walmart has also been grappling with its image, after being accused of discriminating against blacks and women and for not paying its workers enough.
On Thursday, the retailer said that the decision to close its stores “will be accompanied by a change in strategy” as it focuses on expanding its business in the U.S. “We are making some decisions, but there will be no layoffs, no restructuring of operations,” McMillon told a news conference.
“It’s just a matter of how we’re going to execute on those plans.”
The company said it will continue to “provide our full support” to South Florida as it works to expand its business there.
South Carolina’s Republican Gov.
Henry McMaster said in an interview that the company’s decision “shows that the Republican Party in South America is not the party of racism and bigotry.”
He said that he believes that the boycott will continue “to push the Republican brand of leadership into the hands of a Republican president who is a bigot.”
McMaster said he would seek further guidance from the federal government about how to handle the situation.
“We need to look at what is in the best interest of the people of South Carolina,” McMaster said.
“This is the time for us to have a frank and open discussion with our business community and their leadership about how best to manage the situation and what needs to be done.”
Trump’s pick to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, former Republican Sen. Elizabeth Warren, called for Walmart to “come home to America,” in a tweet Thursday.
Trump announced on Thursday that he is nominating Elizabeth Warren to the position, a move that would give her the opportunity to head the agency.
Warren has criticized the administration for what she sees as a weak response to the crisis.
Warren has also said she supports Trump’s plans to bring back the coal industry, saying that he was the only candidate who could have made the case for it in his bid for the White House.
In a letter to Trump on Wednesday, Warren said that “when it comes to fighting climate change, the only path forward is through the fossil fuel industry.”
Warren’s letter called for the president to take a more proactive approach to fighting global warming and to “put our resources where they will make a difference.”
In response to Warren’s letter, the president’s nominee, Robert Califf, said in his letter that the U.,S.
economy will “continue to grow and grow and thrive without the help of the fossil fuels industry.”
Califf has said that fossil fuel production will not continue to expand in the near term, adding that the coal, oil and natural gas industries are not the only way to get energy.
The Consumer Financial Protect Bureau was created in 2010 under the Dodd-Frank Act, the landmark overhaul of the financial industry legislation passed by President Barack Obama.
The agency was originally intended to focus on helping consumers and financial institutions, but has since been criticized for focusing too much on the interests of the big banks.
McMillon said on Thursday, however, that the agency is not interested in having a political agenda.
While Walmart may be facing pressure from consumer and business groups to cut costs in the wake of the South Carolina decision, McMillon did not directly say that the retailer would close its Florida stores.
He said the company will “follow the rules and regulations that are in place.”
Wal-Mart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Follow Paul Wagenseil on Twitter at @WagenseilAP