A banner quarter for Walmart: shoppers staying at home placed orders for all kinds of goods online. The U.S.’ largest retailer nearly doubled its digital sales - its biggest growth ever - as it expanded same-day delivery and curbside pickup services. That helped drive quarterly profit and sales that blasted past analysts’ forecasts.
Same-store sales jumped more than 9% in the U.S. as customers bought more food and general merchandise. The results showed that big box retailers such as Walmart and Home Depot continue to see the kind of demand experienced at the peak of the pandemic, thanks partly to shoppers using their stimulus checks to snap up discretionary goods like shoes and clothes and bigger ticket items like electronics and home furnishings.
Those stimulus-spurred purchases helped Walmart boost its margins even though its costs rose. The company spent more because it sanitized its facilities and raised wages and bonuses for its workers to manage the shopping surge sparked by the pandemic.
One caveat: the U.S. government’s supplemental jobless benefits ended in July. As stimulus funds tapered off, sales at Walmart returned to normal levels.