Walmart, the largest private employer in the US, revealed on Tuesday plans to automate a large swath of its stores and warehouses within a three-year timeframe. This move aligns with the surge of artificial intelligence technologies being introduced into the economy to enhance efficiency; however, it also threatens to displace millions of jobs.
In a press release, the mega-retailer with more than 1.6 million US employees said:
By the end of Fiscal Year 2026, Walmart believes roughly 65% of stores will be serviced by automation, approximately 55% of the fulfillment center volume will move through automated facilities, and unit cost averages could improve by approximately 20%.
As the changes are implemented across the business, one of the outcomes is roles that require less physical labor but have a higher rate of pay.
Walmart did not provide specifics about the potential workforce reduction through 2026 due to automation.
Meanwhile, Goldman’s Jan Hatzius recently told clients that “roughly two-thirds of current jobs (in US and Europe) are exposed to some degree of AI automation, and that generative AI could substitute up to one-fourth of current work. Extrapolating our estimates globally suggests that generative AI could expose the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs to automation” as up to “two-thirds of occupations could be partially automated by AI.”