A deadly winter storm has led to unusually frigid temperatures and slippery road conditions in the South and central United States, leaving retailers little choice but to shut down their stores and other facilities to safeguard their workers as well as customers.
More than 150 million people are currently under weather-related alerts, with the National Weather Service issuing a winter storm warning, winter weather advisory or ice storm warning across 25 states, stretching from Texas to Maine. Big-box chain Walmart, e-commerce behemoth Amazon and hundreds more retailers have subsequently resorted to the temporary closures of many of their outposts.
An interactive map built by Walmart’s Emergency Operations Center showed that 476 of the company’s namesake and Sam’s Club stores were shuttered as of noon ET on Tuesday. The vast majority of those locations were in Texas and neighboring states. In addition, multiple outlets have reported that Amazon has halted operations at some of its delivery stations in Texas to prevent its couriers from driving in dangerous conditions on streets and bridges, which have accumulated heavy patches of ice and snow.
FN has reached out to Walmart for comment. In a statement to FN, Amazon spokesperson Maria Boschetti said, “The safety and wellbeing of our employees, customers and the drivers who deliver packages are our No. 1 priority. We’re actively monitoring the weather reports and following the guidance of local authorities to determine when any sites in impacted areas should close and/or reopen, and out of an abundance of caution, we’ve closed our delivery stations in Texas due to the inclement weather.”
In Dallas, the upscale Highland Park Village — housing luxury brands Balenciaga, Christian Louboutin, Fendi, Jimmy Choo, Trina Turk and Valentino — remained closed since the start of the week, while malls like NorthPark Center and outdoor shopping center The Shops at Park Lane were also shut down. Austin’s The Domain and Barton Creek Square — both owned by mall giant Simon Property Group — are closed for the day, and Houston’s Memorial City Mall and Willowbrook Mall remained shuttered.
Currently, millions of people have been left without electricity, according to PowerOutage.US, with frozen or overworked power sources reported in Oregon, Texas, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia. Hundreds of thousands of residents have also been unable to access water as water treatment plants in multiple cities were shut off.
According to the NWS, heavy snow and freezing rain are expected to cause travel concerns in parts of the eastern Great Lakes and New England today. Frigid Arctic air and treacherously cold windchills are forecasted to persist in the Great Plains and Mississippi Valley through midweek. At least 11 deaths have been linked to the winter storm, which is making its way to eastern Canada.
This story has been updated with a statement from Amazon.