Walmart has announced it is permanently closing all of its locations in Portland months after its CEO warned of a historic rise in theft at its stores.
The locations, located at the Delta Park and Eastport Plaza shopping centers in North and Southeast Portland, will shutter Friday, March 24, the retail colossus revealed in a statement this week.
Walmart says they are closing the stores – which serve as a haven for low-income shoppers across the city – because they were not meeting financial expectations.
That said, the closures serve as the latest instance of businesses relocating or closing shop altogether amid a pronounced rise in crime and homelessness.
The mass exodus has been carried out by owners fed-up with the Portland’s sad state, and officials’ subsequent failure to quell both crises.
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The locations, such as this store in Eastport Plaza shopping center in Southeast Portland, will shutter Friday, March 24, the retail colossus revealed in a statement earlier this week
The maneuver – which brass blamed on financial woes – came months after CEO Doug McMillon warned of a historic rise in theft at the retail giant’s stores
Once hailed as the ‘crown jewel of the West’ for its trendy art and food scenes, the city has already seen a Portland Nike store shut down last year due to mass shoplifting, as well as a popular retail store in the city’s downtown that was broken into 15 times over the course of just two months.
Portland’s current predicament has persisted since the pandemic, and will now deprive residents of two of the last remaining convenient and cost-effective outlets at a time of surging food costs and economic uncertainty.
In a statement to local outlet KPTV, brass for the big box store cited such uncertainty for the reasoning behind closing down the two last remaining Portland Walmarts.
‘The decision to close these stores was made after a careful review of their overall performance,’ a rep told the station this week.
‘We consider many factors,’ the spokesperson would then add, pointing to ‘current and projected financial performance, location, population, customer needs, and the proximity of other nearby stores’ when making the ‘difficult’ decision.
Employees will have the option to transfer to locations outside the city, the rep added, though only a handful are within walking distance, with the nearest being three miles away in the suburb of Happy Valley.
Others in satellite cities such as Gresham and Milwaukie are also potentially walkable, located roughly five and six miles away from the closing Portland superstores, respectively.
Once hailed as the ‘crown jewel of the West’ for its trendy art and food scenes, the city has has been overrun with hundreds of homeless encampments rife with tents and open drug use
The closure came after a recent ‘careful review’ of both stores’ – set on opposite side of the city – overall performance, reps said
Only a handful other are within ten miles of the city’s city center, which has been overrun with hundreds of homeless encampments rife with tents and open drug use.
The city’s woes have gotten so pronounced that local leaders, after failing to solve the livability issues for the better part of three years, are sharing strategies to appease fed-up businesses and and residents as the unrest threatens to spill over into bordering counties, where public opinion is generally more conservative.
‘After we decide to move forward, our focus is on our associates and their transition, which is the case here,’ the Walmart spokesperson assured KPTV in its statement of the roughly 600 staffers spread between the two stores – as well as its pharmacies – who will need to be displaced.
Residents who relied on the store’s low cost goods to supply their families have already begun protesting the closures, with moms like Amanda Pahl speculating that recent instances of mass theft were behind the decision
In a letter to Mayor Ted Wheeler regarding the Eastport Plaza location, Walmart explained said 379 employees would be impacted, along with another 200 at its sister store
The company added that the stores would close to the public on March 24, staff would be allowed until June 2 to make a decision before being terminated.
“We expect the employment separations to be permanent,” Walmart said.
‘We are grateful to the customers who have given us the privilege of serving them at our Hayden Meadows and Eastport Plaza locations,’ the rep added – with residents already protesting the decision.
Crime in Multnomah County, a more populated, progressive region, increased 9 percent last year amid its county seat Portland’s continued crime woes, causing public safety officials in different parts of Oregon to decry the city’s state, with crime still up mostly across the board
They argue the closures are going to have lasting, negative effects on low-income shoppers already forced to navigate across Portland between the two stores, which are set on opposite sides of the city.
‘Safeway is the go-to-store if I have to but that’s three times the price I would spend here,’ Amanda Pahl told KPTV this weekend outside the closing Eastport Plaza location, where a giant ‘store closing’ sign was recently erected.
‘What are we going to do? You got to go further, then you have to spend gas money. Might as well pay for it at Safeway at this point.’
She and others speculated that mass theft was behind Walmart’s decision to close its only two Portland locations, which she says she had relied on to stock her family with groceries and other necessary supplies.
The next day, footage would surface on social media of thieves raiding the Delta Park Walmart, brazenly walking out a big-screen TV in front of store staffers, before peeling away in a car. In their haste to make an escape, one of the looters leaves behind one of their shoes, after it fell off during the sloppy swipe and grab.
Such instances have become increasingly commonplace not only in Portland Walmarts, but in locations across the country, as criminals continue to grow increasingly bold following several failed efforts to defund police forces and reform bail laws, that have offered little to no deterrent for repeat offenders.
Local leaders are sharing strategies for solving the crime and livability issues, as they threaten to spill over into bordering counties, where public opinion is generally more conservative
The Democrat-run city has one of the most deserted downtowns in the United States as soaring crime rates and homelessness are scaring away both locals and tourists.
Portland currently has more than 700 homeless encampments across the city within less than 150 square miles, and the ordeal has also led to skyrocketing crime in the area.
And some of the most charming, trendy and expensive neighborhoods of the Pacific Northwest city are now overrun with tent cities crowding residential sidewalks and littered with trash – and the issue is scaring away both locals and tourists.
Portland City Council rushed to refund the police last November after defunding them by more than $15 million in 2020. Officials voted to add $5.4 million to the force’s budget.
When the police was defunded in 2020, the Portland Police Bureau suffered through a rash of retirements and resignations.