Sunday, 05 July 2020

AT&T closes 250 stores, cuts thousands of jobs

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Thursday 18 June 20

The retail business arm of AT&T has been hit heavily by the coronavirus pandemic, resultingin a swathe of job losses

The slow decline of highstreet retailers has been well understood for many years, but the recent lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated to the process, as internet commerce takes centre stage.   Earlier this week, US operator AT&T admitted that the damage to their retail arm had been severe and would be resulting in the closure of 250 shops around the country…

The slow decline of highstreet retailers has been well understood for many years, but the recent lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated to the process, as internet commerce takes centre stage.

 

Earlier this week, US operator AT&T admitted that the damage to their retail arm had been severe and would be resulting in the closure of 250 shops around the country. Around 1,300 retail jobs are going to be affected by the cuts, but the economic damage caused by the coronavirus extends beyond retail alone. Indeed, managers and executives will also be laid off, alongside around 3,400 technicians and white-collar workers.

 

“There will be targeted, but sizable reductions in our workforce across executives, managers and union-represented employees, consistent with our previously announced transformation initiative,” said the company in a statement. “Additionally, we’ll be eliminating more non-payroll workers – the vast majority of which are outside the United States – than we are managers or union-represented employees.” 

 

In the statement, AT&T said that most of those laid off will be offered another job within the organisation, though specific figures were not mentioned. It did say, however, that all of those losing their jobs would receive severance pay and company-provided healthcare for six months.

 

This is not the first large-scale job cuts being made by major US operators in recent months. Indeed,  the Sprint–T-Mobile merger, after promising to generate thousands of US jobs, in fact saw around 6,000 workers laid off last month. At the time, the company claimed this move had nothing to do with the pandemic, but it was surely a significant factor in their decision making.

 

The economic impact of the pandemic will take months to understand, but it seems likely these job losses are the first of many. As retail shops begin to slowly reopen in parts of the world where lockdown is being eased, it remains to be seen whether these shops and the jobs they support will survive in the long term.


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