Amid a worldwide economic crisis, one business has announced it’s going to be expanding: Walmart is going to hire 22,000 new workers:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Thursday that it expects to hire more than 22,000 people to staff its new or expanded domestic stores this year.
“During this difficult economic time, we’re proud to be able to create quality jobs for thousands of Americans this year,” Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman of Wal-Mart U.S., said in a statement.
Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500), the world’s largest retailer, had previously announced it would open 142 to 157 stores new or expanded stores in 2009, which is fewer than the total number of its new or expanded stores in 2008. The company did not specify how many stores it opened last year.
Wal-Mart added 33,000 jobs in the United States last year, according to the annual report released in April.
The company said it will add 1,000 or more workers in each of 8 states: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.
The retailer said the new hires will fill positions across its business units, including cashiers and sales associates, as well as pharmacists, human resource managers and customer service associates.
What happening? Walmart is one of several companies that is doing well amid international economic ills:
The chief executives of retailers Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. said Thursday that the difficult economy is helping them gain market share from competitors, but cautioned they aren’t yet convinced the recession is abating.
Discount retailer Wal-Mart reported flat first-quarter profit due to a decline in international results, while department-store chain Kohl’s posted a 10% earnings drop on flat sales.
New customers made up 17% of Wal-Mart’s increased shopper visits, and their purchases were 40% higher on average than its traditional shoppers, said U.S. operations chief Eduardo Castro-Wright. Customer visits have “accelerated to levels we have not seen in several years,” Mr. Castro-Wright said. One reason, he said, was that Wal-Mart is taking advantage of the slumping advertising market to increase its advertising.
Wal-Mart Chief Executive Mike Duke predicted that Wal-Mart would hang on to shoppers it has gained after the recession ends. The company noted that it is aggressively spending on improving technology systems and sprucing up aging U.S. stores.
While Wal-Mart only matched its year-ago profit, the $3 billion, or 77 cents a share, that it posted for the quarter ended April 30 outperformed retail competitors that have reported thus far.
Wal-Mart’s earnings were buoyed by the continued strong performance of its U.S. stores, which reported sales at stores open at least a year rose 3.7%. But its international operations continued to be a drag on the company’s bottom line, largely due to the rise in the value of the U.S. dollar. Wal-Mart’s net sales edged down to $93.5 billion, from $94 billion last year.
UPDATE: This comes against the backdrop of U.S. retailers reporting May sales declines.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.