Walmart Inc. delivered healthy financials Aug. 18, with same-store sales at U.S. locations for the second quarter of 2020 up 9.3% from the year-ago quarter.
The big surprise, though, was a near doubling in online sales. Walmart tallied a 97% uptick in e-commerce sales in the United States, and a 39% gain overall.
Total revenue was $137.7 billion, an increase of $7.4 billion, or 5.6%.
In the United States, Walmart’s “essential” status during the pandemic — a designation due to the chain’s large grocery sections — allowed its stores to remain open even after other businesses closed in mid-March.
On an earnings call, president and CEO Douglas McMillon said Walmart’s strong store performance was fueled by “government stimulus, more people eating at home, a focus by customers on entertaining themselves at home, and investing in their homes and yards.”
“We also had some headwinds,” he noted, “including reduced store hours and out-of-stocks.”
McMillon said Walmart has hired more than 500,000 new associates since the beginning of the year.
In an interview with CNBC, Walmart Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs echoed McMillon’s thoughts that government stimulus checks played a big role in the sales gain — but warned of uncertainty ahead.
“Stimulus was definitely impactful to the consumer in the second quarter, and we’re watching what’s going on in Washington, and how we’re going to progress with a new stimulus package,” Biggs said. “I think certainly it would be helpful for consumers.”
On the earnings call, McMillon said that during the second quarter, “our
customers were spending so much more time at home that we experienced strong sales in categories like TVs, computing, and connected home. Customers also took advantage of time for outdoor entertainment and sports, which led to strength in those categories. With significant operating restrictions for restaurants across the country, families continue to prepare more meals at home, and our business has benefited from that trend.”
He added that while “there’s volatility in the supply chain levels, we’re starting to see some categories recover in terms of in-stock.”