Walmart Q2 earnings soar; e-commerce sales jump 97%

Marianne Wilson
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Walmart Inc.’s business continued to surge in the second quarter, with better-than-expected sales fueled by strong demand for food and general merchandise and skyrocketing growth in e-commerce.

The retail giant’s earnings easily blew past Street estimates. Walmart’s income totaled $6.48 billion, or $2.27 per share, in the quarter ended July 31, up from $3.61 billion, or $1.26 per share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted EPS of $1.56. Analysts had expected $1.25 per share.

Walmart’s earnings growth was all the more impressive because it came amid rising costs related the pandemic. The retailer spent about $1.5 billion on costs related to COVID-19. 

On the company's quarterly earnings call, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon spoke briefly about the chain's upcoming subscription-based membership program, Walmart+, but did not say when it would launch.  The program will offer customers fast deliveries, convenient pickup, low prices and other benefits, he said, to encourage repeat and bulk purchases. 

Walmart’s total revenue rose 5.6% to $137.74 billion from $130.38 billion last year, beating analysts’ estimates for $135.57 billion. U.S. same-store sales rose 9.3% with general merchandise and food leading the way. The average ticket rose by 27% during the quarter. Transactions fell by 14%. Walmart noted that sales, especially in the general merchandise category, were bolstered by government stimulus spending, especially at the start of the quarter.

“As stimulus funds tapered off, sales started to normalize, but July comps still grew more than four percent,” the company stated.

U.S. e-commerce sales nearly doubled, rising 97%. Online grocery pickup and delivery “continued to experience all-time high sales volumes,” the company said. At the end of the quarter, Walmart’s online grocery pickup service was available at 3,450 stores and same-day delivery at 2,730 locations.

Sam’s Club membership increased by more than 60% in the quarter, which was the highest quarterly increase in more than five years. The warehouse club’s e-commerce sales grew 39% and its same-store sales rose 13.3%.

“I want to give a big thank you to our associates for their tireless efforts during these unprecedented times,” McMillon said in a statement. “We also appreciate the trust and confidence of our customers. We remain focused on serving them well now and expanding our set of global capabilities to serve them well in the future.”