Walmart, Home Depot and Kohl’s on May 19, 2020 became the first major retailers to report the full impact of COVID-19 on financial operations. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Walmart, Home Depot and Kohl’s on May 19, 2020 became the first major retailers to report the full impact of COVID-19 on financial operations. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Walmart becomes a lifeline and online sales surge 74%

Same-store sales rose 10 per cent at U.S. Walmart stores

NEW YORK — Walmart became a lifeline to millions of people as the coronavirus spread and its surging profit and sales during the fiscal first quarter topped almost all expectations.

Online sales in the U.S. jumped 74%, fueled by a rush on canned foods, paper towels and other crucial supplies needed as people sheltered in place. Same-store sales rose 10% at U.S. Walmart stores on strong sales of food, health and wellness goods.

Costs soared as well, $900 million in all related to the pandemic.

Cash bonuses issued to all hourly workers reached $755 million and Walmart upped pay by $2 per hour at its warehouses. It rolled out an emergency leave policy and spent money on shields at checkout lines, as well as new signage to control the flow of customers in stores.

Walmart pulled its guidance for the year, citing the chaos of the pandemic. It also pulled the plug on Jet.com, an online startup that it bought for more than $3 billion in 2016 as it sought to ramp up online operations to compete with Amazon.com.

Walmart, Home Depot and Kohl’s on Tuesday became the first major retailers to report the full impact of COVID-19 on financial operations, and revealed the vast disparity between those allowed to keep their doors open during the outbreak, and those that were not.

Home Depot, another critical supply line for those sheltering at home, reported strong sales and $850 million in additional costs related to COVID-19, mostly to compensate its workers.

Kohl’s, with it stores closed, swung to a $541 million loss and revenue tumbled more than 40%. J.Crew, J.C. Penney and Stage Stores have also remained closed. Already in a weakened state before the pandemic, all three sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this month.

Target and Macy’s will release their financial results this week as well.

There was already a broadening gap between big box stores and mall-based chains that had struggled follow customers online. The crisis has accelerated that trend, increasing the dominance of big box players while pushing clothing chains further into peril.

Even when the virus loosens its grip, industry analysts are unsure of what the post-pandemic response will be from consumers when it comes to fitting rooms or even walking into stores.

U.S. retail sales tumbled by a record 16.4% from March to April, according to the latest government figures. Those sales, with the unemployment rate now at 14.7%, the highest since the Great Depression, are likely to remain subdued.

Roughly 36 million people have sought unemployment assistance in the past two months.

The shift in discretionary spending leaves Walmart and companies like it in a strong position. The company has more than 3,000 locations for grocery pickup and 1,600 locations that offer grocery delivery. Last fall, it launched “Delivery Unlimited,” a fee-based program that offers unlimited grocery delivery.

This month, the company launched Express Delivery, which gets orders to a customer’s home in less than two hours. The program has been tested in 100 stores since mid-April and will be expanded nearly 2,000 stores in the following weeks.

Walmart had profit of $1.40 per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, were $1.18 per share. That well exceeds the per-share earnings of $1.10 that Wall Street was looking for, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue of $134.62 billion in the period, also exceeding Street forecasts by almost $1 billion.

Walmart’s share rose more than 4% in premarket trading Tuesday. Its stock is up 7% so far this year.

By The Associated Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province still hopes to bring the hospitalization number down before relaxing restrictions. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
14 new deaths, 366 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta

Province nearing 100K COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

The first pages of the book, by Kristy Walker.
Sylvan Lake author pens first children’s book about COVID-19

“The Coronavirus Isn’t Scary” by Kristy Walker teaches children to take care of themselves

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, MLA Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, Devin Dreeshen. (Photo Submitted)
Ag Minister announces 20% off crop insurance for Alberta farmers

Dreeshen says this will support job creators and boosting rural economy during a difficult time

An x-ray tech demonstrates the new equipment in use. (Photo Submitted)
New diagnostic equipment now operational at Sylvan Lake AACS

In August it was announced that Stephen and Jacqueline Wuori donated $850,000 to AACS

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

(Photo submitted)
Central Alberta researchers recognized for studies in agricultural sciences

Jessica Sperber of Ponoka and David MacTaggart of Lacombe awarded prestigious scholarship

FILE – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks at a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine CEO ‘very, very clear’ that Canada’s contracts will be honoured: Trudeau

Trudeau says he spoke to Moderna CEO on the morning of Jan. 26

A ground worker wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 unloads lobsters from a WestJet Airlines flight at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday, January 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Trudeau teases stricter travel measures; Canadians flying to U.S. now need COVID test

Prime minister says measures need to not hurt imports and essential trade

(Photo submitted)
Ponoka RCMP receives new police puppy trainee

Detachment says goodbye to ‘Maja’ and welcomes ‘Neutron’

Art Kempf, originally from the Stettler area but now living in Lacombe, is pictured here with his late wife Lillian. Art’s 100th birthday is coming up on Feb. 22nd.
photo submitted
Former Stettler area resident Art Kempf will be celebrating a very special day next month

Kempf, now a Lacombe resident, marks his 100th birthday on Feb. 22nd

Whistle Stop Cafe owner Christopher Scott and his sister Melodie are serving sit-down customers in their Mirror diner to protest health restrictions that they say are unfair to restaurants and other small businesses. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)
Central Alberta restaurant owner defies health restrictions by serving diners

Whistle Stop Cafe owner says pandemic restrictions unfair to restaurants and small businesses

The Northwest Territories flag flies on a flagpole in Ottawa on July 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta man charged with threatening Northwest Territories public health officer

Police did reveal the nature of the threats, but said it was concerning

A healthy volunteer receives an injection in this undated handout image provided by Providence Therapeutics. Human clinical trials have begun in Toronto for a proposed COVID-19 vaccine by a Canadian company. Providence Therapeutics of Calgary says 60 subjects will be monitored for 13 months, with the first results expected next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Providence Therapeutics
*MANDATORY CREDIT*
Calgary company begins human clinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate

If successful, the vaccine could be released by the end of the year

Most Read