Walmart abruptly announced Thursday it would close dozens of Sam’s Club locations nationwide and lay off thousands of employees.

Some of the stores closed immediately Thursday, according to Business Insider. Locations in Norfolk and Richmond are expected to close by March 16, according to state labor officials, with more than 300 employees affected.

Two Sam’s Club locations in Northern Virginia — in Woodbridge and Sterling — were not impacted.

“After a thorough review of our existing portfolio, we’ve decided to close a series of clubs and better align our locations with our strategy,” according to a company statement on Twitter. “Closing clubs is never easy and we’re committed to working with impacted members and associates through this transition.”

Some employees didn’t realize the stores were closed until they arrived at work on Thursday and found the doors locked and a note announcing the closure, Business Insider reported.

Around a dozen locations will be converted to regional distribution centers for online sales, according to USA Today.

Sam's Club president and CEO John Furner said in a note that the company would try "to place as many associates as possible in new roles at nearby locations.”

The news came on the same day that Walmart announced it would increase the minimum hourly wage to $11 and offer a one-time bonus of up to $1,000 for employees.

Teaser image by Dwight Burdette, Wikimedia Commons

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