Walmart will hire 150,000 associates through the end of May to work in stores, clubs, distribution and fulfillment centers, it said in a March 19 press release. The roles are temporary, but the company said many could become regular positions.
The retailer is accelerating its hiring process from a two-week application cycle to 24 hours for key roles like cashiers and stockers, per the release.
Walmart also will give $365 million in cash bonuses to hourly workers for their work during "an unprecedented national health crisis." Full-time, hourly employees employed as of March 1 will receive $300 and part-time hourly associates will receive $150.
As many retailers temporarily close stores and reduce hours due to COVID-19, the state of the industry's workforce is precarious. Restaurants have already begun to feel the pandemic's impact, with an estimated $225 billion in losses and 5 million to 7 million job losses possible over the next three months due to closures, social distancing and shelter in place orders, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Walmart said it will prioritize hiring workers with backgrounds in restaurants and hospitality — industries that are being hit the hardest during this period.
"We know millions of Americans who are usually employed at this time are temporarily out of work, and at the same time we're currently seeing strong demand in our stores," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement.
Indeed, consumers are seemingly foregoing shopping for nonessential products, while mass merchants, grocery stores and club retailers are seeing panic buying and an increased demand for staples. Retailers in those categories have also turned to hiring in an attempt to keep up with demand. Amazon announced this week that it is hiring 100,000 full- and part-time positions in fulfillment and delivery roles, Kroger is hiring more than 6,500 employees nationwide and Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores plan to hire 25,000 full- and part-time employees.
Walmart this week also announced a reduction in store hours nationwide so associates can stock products and "perform enhanced cleaning and sanitizing." Additionally, the retailer is offering special shopping hours on Tuesdays from March 24 through April 28 for customers 60 years of age or older as a means to support vulnerable populations.