Financial Performance

Walmart’s E-Commerce Surge Continues in Q3

“We’re convinced that most of the [shift to online shopping] will persist beyond the pandemic," CEO Doug McMillon says.
Matthew HellerNovember 17, 2020

Walmart beat quarterly earnings estimates as it continued to benefit from the shift to e-commerce accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.

For the third quarter, Walmart’s online sales rose 79%, slowing from the 97% jump in the previous quarter. Comparable stores sales, including those from digital channels, increased 6.4%, below the prior two quarters.

But overall revenue was up 5.2% from a year ago at $134.7 billion and Walmart posted a profit of $5.14 billion, compared with $3.29 billion last year. Adjusted earnings came in at $1.34 per share.

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Analysts had expected earnings of $1.18 per share on revenue of $132.2 billion.

“We’re convinced that most of the [shift to online shopping] will persist beyond the pandemic and that our combination of strong stores and emerging digital capabilities will be a winning formula,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in an earnings call.

The retail giant had a strong quarter, he added, despite “an unusual and softer back-to-school season and less benefit from government stimulus spending versus the first half of the year.”

As CNBC reports, “Walmart has been one of the beneficiaries of stay-at-home trends during the pandemic — a trend that continued in the most recent quarter, even without a boost from government stimulus dollars. Since the spring, Americans have turned to its stores and website for groceries, cleaning supplies and items to pass the time, from puzzles to bicycles.”

Walmart has tried to beef up its online offerings by rolling out grocery pickup and delivery services at more than half its U.S. stores.

The e-commerce surge at the start of the pandemic amounted to “three to five years of acceleration in e-commerce, really in a period of weeks and months,” Walmart CFO Brett Biggs said.

Walmart’s U.S. shopper traffic decreased 14.2% in the third quarter, while the value of the average shopping trip grew 24%.

“Within Walmart’s results are some mixed trends,” John Zolidis, president and retail analyst at Quo Vadis Capital, told The Wall Street Journal. “Clearly commerce has accelerated, but we can also see traffic was down 14% for the second consecutive quarter and that’s a big number.”

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