By CBSLA Staff

IRVINE (CBSLA) — Next month, Walmart will close its supercenter in Irvine, the retail giant announced this week.

A Walmart supercenter in Irvine, Calif. Feb. 2, 2021. (CBSLA)

The company announced that it is closing the store located at 71 Technology Dr. on March 5. There are six other Walmart stores within 15 miles of the supercenter. According to the Orange County Register, Walmart said the store’s 250 employees will have the option of transferring to a neighboring Walmart.

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Although Walmart said the closure is because the store is under-performing, an industry expert told CBSLA Tuesday that the store is simply another casualty of the pandemic. Burt Flickinger, the managing director for retail consulting firm Strategic Resource Group, said he’s not surprised by the closure.

“Consumers a year ago were buying 10% of what they needed online and now Californians are buying 40% or more online,” Flickinger said. “COVID-19 has really accelerated the proverbial retail ice age.”

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Flickinger predicts that by mid-century, more than half of all shopping will be done online. In the next five years, he expects over 1,000 brick-and-mortar stores will close in California.

“For most of the conventional traditional stores, it is the sign of the times,” Flickinger said.

Furthermore, stores like Walmart are especially susceptible to shoplifters, who face few penalties under new state laws. It’s harder for smaller stores to maintain security, making it easier for shoplifters to steal.

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This all comes after Kroger announced Monday that it would close two grocery stores in Long Beach, a Ralphs and a Food 4 Less, following the passage of a law which requires all grocery stores in the city to pay their employees an extra $4 per hour in hazard pay due to the risks associated with working during the COVID-19 pandemic.