Walmart sees sales slowing in 2022; shares drop

Sales surged at Walmart in the holiday quarter, but the company predicts that’ll slow down in fiscal 2022.

The world’s biggest retailer forecast Thursday that adjusted net sales will grow in the low single digits in the year ending in January. That’s much slower than the 8.5% growth seen last year.

The company also projected earnings that falls short of analysts’ targets. Contrast that with last year when demand surged as consumers flocked to the retailer to pick up essentials and other items amid the lockdowns.

Walmart also reported that pandemic-related costs that include higher wages for warehouse workers and expenses for cleaning its stores amounted to over a billion dollars. That along with the dour forecast sent its shares down more than 6% in early trading Thursday.

That overshadowed a strong quarter that saw same-store sales jump 8.6% as shoppers used their stimulus money to buy electronics and toys amid an earlier start to the holiday season. Online sales grew 69%, twice the pace in the period the year before.

Its own employees will have more money to spend, too. Walmart said it is raising wages for its U.S. workers to an average of more than $15 an hour.