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AT&T to lay off thousands of workers and close 250 stores

AT&T to lay off thousands of workers and close 250 stores

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It blamed changing consumer behaviors alongside the pandemic

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

AT&T has confirmed that it’s cutting thousands of jobs and closing hundreds of stores, Axios reports. While the company has not confirmed the total number of jobs affected, the cuts reportedly include 3,400 technician and clerical jobs as well as managerial and executive roles. And 250 retail locations will be closed, including both AT&T and Cricket Wireless branded stores, the Communication Workers of America confirmed — although AT&T said most of these employees will be offered alternative jobs at the company.

In a statement, the company blamed “changed customer behaviors” for the job cuts, as well as the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Axios notes that the company is facing a very different market now that T-Mobile has merged with Sprint (in a move that’s resulted in its own layoffs).

Although AT&T said that the store closures had been planned previously, the pandemic has reportedly caused it to bring these plans forward. “With more customers shopping online, we are closing some retail stores to reflect our customers’ shopping practices,” AT&T said.

“Reducing our workforce is a difficult decision that we don’t take lightly.”

Any workers who lose their jobs will get severance pay and up to six months of health care from the company where eligible. AT&T also says that many of its retail employees have already transitioned towards customer support roles while stores are temporarily closed due to COVID. Finally, the company said that “virtually all” of its wireline technician redundancies are currently voluntary, and that its worked on an enhanced severance package for these employees. “Reducing our workforce is a difficult decision that we don’t take lightly,” AT&T said in its statement.

It’s not just the US where phone stores are closing. Back in March, UK-based Dixons Carphone announced that it was closing its 531 Carphone Warehouse locations, previously the country’s largest chain of phone stores. At the time, the company blamed changing consumer habits, with people replacing their phones less often and opting to buy them separately or as part of flexible bundles.

Update June 17th, 12:24PM ET: Updated with additional details provided by AT&T.

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