Walmart sees growth online and in stores
BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Walmart saw online sales surge as it changed up its shipping offers, and drew more shoppers to its stores as well in the most recent quarter even as retail overall is more competitive.
The world’s largest retailer said Thursday that sales at established stores rose for the 11th straight quarter, and customer traffic rose for the 10th quarter in a row. That’s a contrast with many rivals that saw both those figures drop.
Online sales at Walmart.com rose 63 per cent, dramatically up from the 29 per cent growth in the previous quarter. Though the company has been buying up smaller Internet retailers, Walmart said a majority of the increase was through Walmart.com and was fuelled by changes in its shipping strategy and a discount for shoppers who pick up their online orders.
“We’re transforming to become more of a digital enterprise,” said Doug McMillon, CEO and president of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Walmart’s report stood out amid a largely gloomy environment for retailers, after chains like Macy’s, Kohl’s, J.C. Penney and Target saw declines in comparable-store sales. Even off-price retailer TJX Cos., which has done better than many as customers hunt for bargains, missed forecasts for that sales measure. And it underscores Walmart’s efforts to narrow the gap between itself and online leader Amazon, and widen the distance between itself and other competitors.
Retails bankruptcies in the U.S. are setting a record pace this year, and store closures are expected to exceed those of 2008 after the financial crisis. Research firm RetailMetrics, which tracks results from more than 100 chains, said overall they are expected to record a flat increase in revenue at established stores for the quarter, the worst performance since 2009. Excluding Walmart’s results, there would be a 0.8 per cent decline.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based company has retooled how it operates online, as customers get used to free shipping and other enticements that add costs and hurt the bottom line. It has also accelerated that shift with its acquisitions.
Walmart customer traffic rose for the 10th quarter in a row.