The by-all-accounts busy Walmart location on Edgewater Drive in Oakland, near the Oakland Airport, will shut its doors Sunday evening along with a location in San Jose, and Oakland officials are sounding the alarm that this is just Walmart being jerks about the city's minimum wage. As ABC 7 reports, the decision to shutter the stores does not appear to be because they are under-performing and as the Chron points out, it's telling that the company is not closing its two stores in nearby San Leandro, where there is no local minimum wage mandate that supersedes the state's.
The Oakland closure will mean 400 workers will be out of a job after the store clears out its stock in February, and it means that the city will be out a significant chunk of its sales tax base, with this store being one of the 25 biggest earners in the city limits.
Walmart spokesperson Delia Garcia tells the Chron that the decision did factor in a store's financial performance, though that could well include the issue of wages Oakland has a $12.55 minimum wage, with a 30-cent bump that took effect January 1, compared to the state minimum wage of $10, and the abysmal federal minimum wage of $7.25. With the prices of goods likely fairly similar nationwide, one can easily see how Walmart's bottom line would be different at a store with a $12.55 wage versus stores in the nine states that either use the federal minimum or do not dictate a minimum of their own, including Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota, Alabama, and Mississippi.
As for the San Jose store, where the minimum wage is a mere 30 cents over the state's, at $10.30, perhaps other factors were at play.
Just maybe, this empty big-box location near the Oakland airport will attract another Target store. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tells CBS 5 she's confident that another store will take Wamart's place at the Edgewater location, but "Our focus is on supporting the company’s Oakland employees as Walmart works to relocate them to one of their four remaining stores within 15 miles of the Edgewater site, or provides severance."
The employees will reportedly get 60 days severance, and many will get relocated. The store's last day will be tomorrow, January 17, and it will close at 7 p.m.
The city of Oakland had long campaigned to get a Target store, a battle which was half-won when a Target finally opened on the Oakland-Emeryville border in 2011. The store resides half in each city, and therefore splits its sales tax revenue between the two municipalities.
In total, Walmart announced the closure of 269 stores, with 115 of those in Latin America, primarily in Brazil, marking a full-scale pull-out of the company's 20-year effort to conquer the Brazil market. As Bloomberg reported in 2014, Walmart had trouble connecting with consumers in the country, where shoppers are more savvy and less lazy than in the U.S., and often hit multiple stores in order to get the best deals on each product.
With 11,000 stores worldwide, and the majority of the current closures either in Brazil or affecting smaller format Walmart Express stores, the issue of the minimum wage seems the likely culprit in the Oakland closure. Walmart also says that 95 percent of the closures are occurring at stores that are within 10 miles of another Walmart store.
As Inquisitr notes, with 10,000 Americans losing their jobs due to these closures, the issue is likely to make it to the presidential campaign trail.
Previously: Video: Man 'High On Drugs' Drives Oldsmobile Into San Jose Wal-Mart, Attacks Customers