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Retailer sees pickup demand grow during COVID-19



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While the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated bankruptcies for department stores like J.C. Penney, Walmart saw its revenue grow by $10.7 billion.

The retail giant reported its first quarter earnings Tuesday, which show revenue growth of nearly 9% and comparable sales up 10%. With increased demand for grocery pickup and delivery services, online sales grew 74%, the company said.

“Our omnichannel strategy, enabling customers to shop in seamless, flexible ways, is built for serving the needs of customers during this crisis and in the future,” Doug McMillon, Walmart CEO and president, said in a news release.

The company says it has spent nearly $900 million on expenses related to COVID-19, which include cash bonuses to all hourly associates in the U.S. totaling approximately $755 million. 

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Last week, Walmart and Sam’s Club announced they were giving hourly workers a second round of cash bonuses worth $390 million. Target announced Monday that it was extending the $2-an-hour temporary wage increase for employees through July 4, which is two months longer than originally announced.

Walmart, which has about 4,700 stores in the U.S., previously announced it was hiring 200,000 additional employees to keep up with high consumer demand during the coronavirus pandemic. Store hours were cut twice in April and most locations are open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. local time.

The retailer also announced Tuesday that Sam’s Club comp sales increased 12%, which the company said was led by in-club transactions, while online sales grew 40%.

Officials said they were withdrawing fiscal guidance for the year due to the “unprecedented variability” caused by the virus. Shares of Walmart stock were up 2.5% in early trading Tuesday.

“Today’s results confirm the view that Walmart was one of the big winners from the coronavirus pandemic,” said Jesse Cohen, senior analyst at Investing.com, in a statement to USA TODAY. “They’ve made a lot of investments in grocery and they did it at the right time. If COVID-19 would have happened two to three years ago, they wouldn’t have been as prepared.”

Increased demand and stimulus spending

During an earnings call Tuesday, McMillon said the company experienced unprecedented demand in categories like paper goods, surface cleaners and grocery staples.

“For many of these items we were selling in two or three hours what we normally sell in two or three days,” he said.

McMillon said other in-demand items have included office chairs, laptops, adult bikes, puzzles and exercise equipment.

Spending after consumers received stimulus checks also helped drive sales, officials said.

Walmart discontinuing Jet.com

Walmart officials announced Tuesday that because of the “continued strength of the Walmart.com brand,” the company will discontinue Jet.com. Walmart acquired the e-commerce site about four years ago for $3.3 billion. 

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

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