Online retailer Zulily will close its Bethlehem facility in the latter half of 2022, affecting about 500 local jobs.
Zulily is a Seattle-based company for clothing, footwear and home products. The company is owned by Qurate Retail Group, which also owns QVC and HSN, among other brands.
The facility is currently located on Emery Street on the Southside, near Wind Creek Casino and is the sixth largest employer in the Lehigh Valley’s transportation and logistics sectors, according to the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation.
According to a WFMZ article, the company promised to create more than 1,000 local jobs upon the opening of the Zulily facility in 2014.
Company spokesperson for Qurate Retail Group Ilana McCabe said the closing is due to an ongoing evaluation of the network’s footprint and current and projected needs.
Qurate Retail Group issued a statement to The Brown and White regarding the closure:
Given (Zulily’s) proximity to the nearby QVC and HSN Fulfillment Center (also in Bethlehem), we expect there will be employment opportunities for impacted team members to continue with the Qurate Retail Group at that site. We are committed to providing a seamless transition to similar roles for as many Zulily team members as possible at the QVC/HSN site. Team members who are not placed in roles within the business will be eligible to participate in the company’s severance program.
Colin Mcevoy, director of communications of the Lehigh Valley Economics Development Corporation, said the decision to close the Bethlehem facility was based on the company’s financial situation.
“It is highly likely that the space will be refilled quickly when Zulily leaves later this year based on the growth of the online retail sector in the Lehigh Valley, the continued interest of online retailers who want to be in the Lehigh Valley and the continued growth in jobs in that sector of the economy,” Mcevoy said.
Lehigh professor of economics Marija Baltrusaitiene said other companies have surpassed Zulily’s levels of employment and she does not expect past Zulily employees to remain unemployed for long.
Similarly, president of Lehigh Valley Industrial Park Kerry Wrobel said there are about 30 other manufacturers, industrial and warehouse companies in the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park that are looking for employees. Wrobel said the current labor shortages in the region will allow those who previously worked at the Zulily facility to promptly find new employment opportunities.
“The disruption of one’s life is always a challenge and should not be taken lightly,” Wrobel said. “At the same time, the current labor shortages in the region portend well for the displaced workers.”
Baltrusaitiene said she also predicts there to be employment possibilities for the Zulily workers.
“All factors indicate that the past Zulily employees should be absorbed by the market as employees of other companies fairly quickly,” Baltrusaitiene said.
As for the future of Zulily’s commercial space, Wrobel said he assumes the future owner will have overwhelming interest in the building due to a strong market for warehouse space, which is driven by the growth of ecommerce.
Employees from the Zulily Fulfillment Center did not respond to a request for comment.