September 22, 2021

Walmart Earnings, Sales Rose as Shoppers Returned to Stores Despite Delta Surge

Walmart Inc. logged another quarter of rising U.S. sales as a return to in-store shopping offset slower online growth, at a time when retailers are navigating rising costs, supply chain snarls and an uptick in Covid-19 cases in many parts of the country.

Comparable sales, those from U.S. stores and digital channels operating for at least 12 months, rose 5.2% in the quarter ended July 30 compared with the same period last year. U.S. e-commerce sales rose 6% from a year ago, when Covid restrictions kept many people home.

Growth slowed from earlier in the year, both online and off, but was still given a boost by government stimulus dollars and a generally strong U.S. economy, the company said Tuesday. Sales increased each month through the quarter, with July the strongest month, Walmart said.

The recent rise of the Delta variant hasn’t left “any meaningful impact” nationally on the business, said Walmart Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs, in an interview. In some regions shoppers are wearing masks more often in stores, but overall stores remain busy with back-to-school shopping, he said. As some local officials use vaccination requirements, not lockdowns, to fight the pandemic, “we haven’t seen any panic buying or anything like that,” said Mr. Biggs.

There are signs some of the surge in sales at many retailers earlier in the year are cooling. U.S. retail sales fell 1.1% in July, the Commerce Department said Tuesday, with spending declining broadly across categories, including clothing, furniture and autos. The government’s tally, which includes restaurants and bars, had risen in June as more Americans got vaccinated and spending shifted to dining out and travel.

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