Walmart’s quarterly results crushed analysts’ estimates as record growth in online sales offset a decline in U.S. store traffic.
According to CFO Brett Biggs, Walmart has expanded the availability of delivery and pickup time slots about 30% since February to accommodate the surge in ecommerce business as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
For the second quarter, the retail giant’s online sales jumped 97% from a year ago. That helped fuel a 9.3% increase in same-store sales — the second consecutive quarter of strong growth after a 10% gain in the first quarter — even though U.S. store traffic fell 14%.
Walmart is “grabbing market share in some categories as many retailers close stores or declare bankruptcy amid coronavirus struggles,” The Wall Street Journal said.
Bolstered by government stimulus checks, shoppers continued to spend more when they venture out to shop, with the average amount spent per transaction at Walmart jumping 27% in the first quarter.
Overall, Walmart posted adjusted earnings of $1.56 per share as revenue rose 5.6% to $137.74 billion. The company spent $1.5 billion on Covid-related costs but operating profits still increased 8.5% to $6.1 billion.
Analysts had expected earnings of $1.25 per share on revenue of $135.48 billion.
“Our customers were spending so much more time at home that we experienced strong sales in categories like TVs, computing, and connected home,” CEO Doug McMillon said on an earnings call. With many restaurants facing restrictions, “families continue to prepare more meals at home, and our business has benefited from that trend.”
Despite the big earnings beat, Walmart shares fell 0.4% to $135.12 in trading Tuesday. Biggs noted that “we saw stronger-than-expected sales due in large part to stock-up buying and stimulus spending, but the duration and extent of future government stimulus remains uncertain.”
According to Placer.ai, Walmart’s in-store traffic rebounded some in May, but dropped sharply in June and July.
“While Walmart is still king, the pandemic has given rise to more home improvement shopping and growing dollar store visits, two segments that seem to be taking away visits,” Ethan Chernofsky, Placer.ai’s VP of marketing, told Yahoo Finance.