By Jessica J. LeaDeckardAssociated PressWEST PALM BEACH, Fla.

(AP) Walmart and its parent company, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., are planning to shutter more than 1,200 of its more than 10,000 U.S. stores, according to people familiar with the matter.

The closings are expected to affect about 1,100 stores, and they are not expected to be completed until the spring, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal discussions.

Walmart will also lay off more than 500 workers, they said.

The layoffs are expected in the coming months.

The retailer said in a statement Thursday that it has been “deeply disappointed by the decision of some of our associates to work at other retailers and that we are working to ensure that our associates are retained.”

Walmart said it has also been working with its suppliers to “help them maintain and strengthen relationships with associates.”

Wal-Mart has been a target of protests by the Black Lives Matter movement and other activist groups, as well as the Trump administration.

In response, the company has said it plans to hire 1,300 new associates.

The retailer has also invested $1.6 billion to open a new manufacturing facility in Indiana.

Wal-Marts chief executive David Sacks said last week that he and the company’s board of directors have discussed how to support its suppliers, and that they are focused on the well-being of the associates.

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