Several videos of looting happening in Walmart stores in Chicago have recently gone viral on social media. The looting videos come at a time when the supermarket chain announced the closure of four of its stores in Chicago. Walmart announced on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, that starting next week, it will close the four least-performing stores from its eight Chicago stores.
One of the viral videos shows a woman crying while showing the destruction caused by the loot. Some users claim that the video is from 2020 after George Floyd's murder caused outrage worldwide.
Several social media users have pointed out that Walmart stores were closing amidst the violence and looting in Chicago. However, that has yet to be confirmed by the chain's management. Amidst all of this, the videos of the looting have caught the attention of people across the world, with one even calling it "heartbreaking."
Chicago Walmart's viral video sparks concern on social media
Social media users took to Twitter to discuss the viral video of a woman crying while showing the damage done to Walmart. Some users were unapologetic and claimed that what the Chicago natives were going through was a consequence of their own voting polls.
Other users blamed it on Brandon Johnson, the new mayor.
Some also commented on how it had become a thing to loot Walmart and expressed pity and concern for the people living in the underserved city.
A few users believed that the footage was from the George Floyd attack in 2020 and was circulating over the internet again.
Four Walmart stores are closing down in Chicago
The aforementioned closure is a reversal of the retail giant's commitment in 2020 to expand its reach in the city as part of its corporate racial justice initiative in the wake of George Floyd's murder by the police.
The announcement comes in light of Walmart bringing notice to its efforts in Chicago as a "critical part" of its broader $100 million pledge to advancing racial equity. In a statement in 2021, Walmart CEO Doug McMillion said that Chicago would be an example of what was possible when the brand leveraged business, government, and the community for the people's good.
The decision also follows more than a decade of intense efforts by Chicago's leaders to attract the retail chain and other big-name chains to their underserved areas. This was done to ensure economic development in all parts of their city. There are conflicting reports about the stores closing. Walmart officials say that it is due to financial problems, whereas netizens who know the on-ground reality say otherwise.
The retail company said that workers in their soon-to-be-closed stores will be eligible to switch their work branches. Local leaders can find reuse options for the buildings that will be abandoned by the retail chain.
The four remaining stores in the city are said to “continue to face the same business difficulties.” However, the retail chain believes that closing the other stores is their best chance at surviving in the city of Chicago.
Three of the store locations are in Chicago's south and west neighborhoods, which are mainly populated by minorities. One of the stores is on the North side, which is more affluent. However, the stores in the south and west neighborhoods have reportedly had a longstanding battle with grocery stores and retail product access.
The chain added that the four stores lose tens of millions of dollars a year and that the annual losses have nearly doubled in the last five years. The retail company has claimed to have tested several strategies to improve its stores and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the city. They added in a blog post that the efforts haven't "materially improved" the business challenges that the stores are facing.
The recent closures call to attention the pullback in major US cities by national chains like the retail one. It poses questions about the true effectiveness of government strategies when it comes to replying to national chains to improve food and retail access in underserved areas.
During protests in the city and across the world over Floyd's murder by the police, the chain closed all eight of its stores in the city, hoping to avoid destruction. There was constant speculation about the retail store and other chains leaving their businesses in Chicago. However, Walmart pledged to stay and help make the city a better place.
In 2020, the company's CEO cautioned that they may have to revisit their decisions if the stores don't work out in a few years. He had also added that he wasn't hoping for that or planning on it.
A year later, McMillon said that Walmart wanted to build a successful business in Chicago while serving the city's people and also work with those who wanted to see the city "fulfill its potential."
In a statement on Tuesday, Chicago's mayor, Lori Lightfoot, said that she was disappointed that the brand was closing its stores in the city. She added:
“Unceremoniously abandoning these neighborhoods will create barriers to basic needs for thousands of residents. I call on Walmart to ensure that these soon-to-be-closed stores are repurposed with significant community engagement so they can find a new use to serve their neighborhoods.”
Walmart is not the only national chain that has closed its stores in major cities. A Whole Foods flagship closed in San Francisco on Monday after citing concerns about worker safety. Walgreens and CVS have also closed their stores in San Francisco and New York, whereas Starbucks has closed 16 locations across cities.