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Walmart To Shutter Dozens Of Sam's Club Locations

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StockMonkeys.com / Flickr / CC BY 2.0/ MGN StockMonkeys.com / Flickr / CC BY 2.0/ MGN

(CNBC) — Walmart is shuttering some of its Sam's Club locations, with several stores reportedly closing their doors across the U.S. as early as Thursday. The exact number of stores closing hasn't been confirmed by the company.

A source familiar with the situation said a few dozen Sam's Club stores are set to close. That compares with a total of five the company has closed since fiscal 2013.

As of Jan. 31, 2017, Walmart had 561 Sam's Club locations in the U.S.

The news comes as the big-box retailer just announced it would be using savings from new tax legislation to raise employee's starting wages and offer bonuses to staff.

A company spokesperson didn't immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

Reports of the closings began to emerge Thursday morning in local media outlets in Texas, New York, New Jersey and Arizona, amid complaints from disgruntled employees and confused customers. In some cases, employees weren't notified in advance, some publications said.

Sam's Club's Twitter account was issuing statements to upset customers Thursday afternoon.

When one user asked about picking up a prescription from a closing store, Sam's Club said: "Pharmacies will stay open for at least two weeks, and we will work with each state's Board of Pharmacy to help guide this transition."

Sam's Club has generally underperformed relative to Walmart, facing strong competition from discount peer Costco, which has excelled at merchandising and vendor relations. In recent years, Walmart has focused on reviving the brand.

At an October meeting with investors, Sam's Club CEO John Furner said the retailer needed to improve its "competitive position" as same-store sales growth started to slow into the first half of fiscal 2018.

Those efforts would include better targeting households that make between $75,000 to $125,000, Furner said. He didn't speak to whether Sam's Club would be closing or opening more stores as part of achieving those goals.

More broadly, Walmart has been investing in its digital business, underlined by its change of name from Wal-Mart Stores to Walmart. These efforts have been propelled by its acquisition of Amazoncompetitor Jet.com, through which it has been building a coterie of online brands.

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