WALMART BECOMES A PANDEMIC LIFELINE, ONLINE SALES SURGE 74%
WALMART BECOMES A PANDEMIC LIFELINE, ONLINE SALES SURGE 74%
Walmart emerged as one of the few lifelines to millions of people as the coronavirus spread, leading to surging profit and sales for the world’s largest retailer.

Online sales in the U.S. jumped 74% for its fiscal first quarter that ended April 30, which captured the brunt of the pandemic’s outbreak. Same-store sales rose 10% at U.S. Walmart stores on strong sales of food, health, and wellness goods.

At a time when a huge swath of stores that sell non-essential merchandise temporarily shut down, Walmart has the natural advantage of carrying the very items that consumers need during a pandemic.

But unlike its online rivals like Amazon, Walmart enjoys an extensive network of nearly 5,000 physical stores and a variety of delivery and pick-up options that it ramped up to meet crushing demand for essential items, from paper towels to canned food. Walmart’s reputation for low prices also helped as the unemployment rate has spiraled to the high level since the Great Depression.

“Having a wide range of fulfillment options, including delivery to home, collection from store — and by using stores for fulfillment — allowed Walmart to ramp up capacity in a way that many other players struggled to do,” said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. “We also believe that by using stores effectively, Walmart mitigated some of the higher costs associated with the online channel.”

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May 22, 2020