By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Atmore’s Walmart, which has operated 24 hours a day since it opened here in June of 2014, will no longer be an all-day, all-night shopping option, starting this Saturday, June 2.
According to signs posted at the local retail giant’s entrance and exit, Walmart-Atmore will close at 1 a.m. Saturday morning and will remain closed until 6 a.m., when shoppers will be allowed back in. The 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. schedule will remain in effect each day after that, while pharmacy hours will remain the same.
Officials of the company’s Bentonville, Ark. headquarters said the change was made to take advantage of shopping patterns in order to better serve Walmart’s local customers.
“These changes are being made because we’re continually looking at how we can best serve our customers,” explained Casey Staheli, Walmart’s Senior Manager for National Media Relations. “Based on a recent review of shopping patterns at our Atmore store, we are adjusting hours and reallocating resources to better serve our customers during peak shopping hours.”
Walmart customers apparently have mixed feelings about the change in hours.
“I don’t like it, not even a minute,” said Jasmine Patterson of Atmore, holding an infant as she and a toddler prepared to enter the store on Monday. “I’ve got three children, with a five-year-old being the oldest. What am I going to do when my babies get sick in the middle of the night? Where am I going to get earache medicine or cold medicine or things like that? This was the only place left where you could get that kind of stuff at 3 in the morning.”
Linda Graves and Joe Gacek, who were shopping at the local store Tuesday morning while having a dog groomed at a local business, said they usually shop at the Brewton store and most likely wouldn’t be affected by the new Atmore hours.
Graves, a former employee of the Brewton Walmart, said there was talk of cutting hours at that store when she worked there, but no such decision was ever made. She and Gacek agreed that the change in hours for the Atmore store was probably due to an increase in shoplifting and theft during the period when the store was least staffed.
“I saw that they were cutting back on their hours, and that’s a shame for the people down here,” the Brewton woman said. “When I worked [at the Brewton Walmart], we had the same problem. There wasn’t near as many people working overnight, and there was never any loss prevention people in the store during that time, so it was, ‘Let’s go get some Walmart money.’ It should be better for the stockers, though.”
Gacek added that, in Brewton, “They had some guys come in one time and bust the glass out of the electronics department and steal a bunch of stuff, while the store was open.”
Grover Barnes of Atmore said Tuesday that the new schedule wouldn’t affect him at all.
“I hadn’t even paid any attention to that,” Barnes said of the signs announcing the new hours. “I come early in the morning. I don’t like the crowds in the evening, and I don’t like waiting. I never come late at night because I don’t drive at night, so the new hours won’t bother me.”