Less than 90 days after REI, the outdoor recreation retailer, cut 25 percent of its workforce at its Kent, Washington headquarters, hundreds more workers will be laid off nationwide amid the pandemic, SeattlePI reported.
REI, a seller of sporting goods, camping gear, travel equipment and outdoor wear, will reportedly let go of 400 retail employees across its 162 stores nationwide this week, or more than 3 percent of the company’s 13,000 retail staffers, the online news service reported.
“As the months roll by, it’s clear that the virus is going to be with us in a profound way for the foreseeable future,” CEO Eric Artz wrote in an email to employees. “We’re doing great work serving customer demand right now, but there’s a lot we still don’t know about the long-term impacts to the economy and the full impact to our business.”
In April, Artz announced that he would not collect a paycheck through October. In addition, he said top executives will take a 20 percent pay cut – but that wasn’t enough to keep the company in the black. Low sales, not limited to REI, have hit the retail industry hard during the pandemic, and have led to more cuts.
“Nearly all REI stores are open in some capacity with a focus on health and safety standards for employees and customers, and we’ve been able to bring the majority of those employees back from furlough,” an REI spokesperson said. “This week, we notified approximately 400 retail employees that they will not be brought back when the furlough period ends on July 15.”
PYMNTS reported this week that the retail recovery continues to be mixed. On the plus side, malls started to reopen in several states over the weekend. A portion of the nation’s workforce is returning to their jobs, as evidenced by the most recent report that showed 4.8 million new jobs were added in June.
But retail bankruptcies continue to mount. Parent company RTW Retailwinds announced that New York & Co. filed for bankruptcy on Monday (July 13), and the company plans to permanently shutter most of its 350-plus stores. Liquidation sales are already underway at about 325 of its reopened stores.
“The combined effects of a challenging retail environment, coupled with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, have caused significant financial distress on our business, and we expect it to continue to do so in the future,” RTW Retailwinds CEO and CFO Sheamus Toal said in a statement.