Walmart representatives credited the new Republican tax plan for the added funds.
“The wonderful thing it’s done by increasing permanent wages for a million employees is now being defined by, sadly, 11,000 people being let go,” Crutchfield said.
“Walmart should have been doing a big pre-dance with bright lights and trumpets, and now it’s staring at floodlights,” he said. “It’s done something bad.”
Walmart told CNBC on Friday its priority was its people, not the publicity it was creating.
“When it came down to managing the issues around Sam’s Club, our focus was on the associates impact, the clubs and the community, not the media,” Walmart spokesperson Greg Hitt said.
The company will be working to help employees at the closing Sam’s Clubs transfer to other locations or Walmart stores, Hitt said. All employees at closing stores receive 60 days pay and a severance, he added.
Crutchfield said for Walmart to regain consumer trust, it will need to concentrate on the good news the company is generating and the reason it raised wages in the first place.
“You’ve got to drown out that bad news,” he said. “Go on about it, go on about it. Give reasons why you did it. Show examples of all these millions of people who are delighted to have more money in their pocket.”
Walmart is one of the largest retailers in the world, with more than 260 million customers visiting stores each week.
“There’s obviously a lot of people out there who still want to shop with them and buy from them,” Crutchfield said. “A lot of consumers get over bad news quite quickly. It depends on what you put in front of them. In a couple of weeks, no one’s going to really be thinking about this.”