Winter storm temporarily closes hundreds of Walmart stores and Amazon facilities, snarling delivery
Ice covers trees and bushes outside Walmart during extreme cold weather in Cleveland, Mississippi, February 11, 2021.
Rory Doyle | Reuters
Hundreds of Walmart stores are temporarily closed as winter weather causes severe ice and power outages in Texas, the Southeast and other parts of the country. Package delivery was also delayed in the impacted region.
The big-box retailer said 456 stores and clubs are closed as of midday Tuesday. That represents nearly 9% of Walmart’s more than 5,300 stores and Sam’s Club locations.
Other retailers and restaurants also kept stores shuttered or sent workers home due to the extreme weather. Kroger closed some locations and shortened hours at stores in Houston and Dallas, according to its website. Target kept 10 stores closed because of winter weather, with most of those in Texas, a company spokeswoman said.
Amazon spokesperson Maria Boschetti told CNBC in a statement that the company was forced to temporarily close some of its facilities in eight states: Texas, Arkansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana and Kentucky due to the inclement weather.
UPS, FedEx close shipping hubs
In Texas, more than 4.2 million people woke up without power on Tuesday, as the state’s electric grid could not keep up with demand for heat during record-low temperatures. Cold temperatures, snow and freezing rain are forecast for many other regions, too, including New England, the Great Plains and Mississippi Valley, according to the National Weather Service.
The severe weather has disrupted service at FedEx‘s hub in Memphis and caused package delays across the U.S., the company said. It has prevented pickup and delivery in certain cities, company spokeswoman Shannon Davis said.
UPS Spokesperson Matthew O’Connor told CNBC that the company’s Worldport package hub in Louisville, Kentucky, and another regional hub in Dallas have since reopened after temporarily closing Monday night due to the weather.
“We are always safety first in meeting our service commitments,” O’Connor said in an email. “That’s why, with 6-10″ of snow and ice forecast for Louisville last night, we took the unusual step of suspending Worldport sort operations and cancelling domestic inbound flights on Monday night, Feb. 15.”
Both carriers said customers should monitor package status changes on their websites.
Meanwhile, Amazon warehouse and delivery employees were told not to report to their scheduled shift in affected areas. In some cities, last-mile delivery stations were shuttered for several days as a result of snow and ice.
“The health and safety of our employees, customers and the drivers who deliver packages is our top priority,” Boschetti said in a statement.
Amazon is actively monitoring weather reports and following the guidance of local officials to determine when any sites in impacted areas should close or reopen, the company said. Employees impacted by the closures will be paid for their scheduled shift, Amazon added.