“We grew market share in U.S. grocery, added thousands of new sellers to our marketplace, rapidly grew advertising businesses around the world and we’re finding innovative ways to commercialize our data and build technology,” Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said in the statement.
Walmart said it nearly doubled U.S. ad sales in the quarter. The year-ago quarter was part of a year when the retail reported it also had doubled ad sales for its Walmart Connect ad business.
Walmart shares were little changed at 7 a.m. in premarket trading Tuesday in New York. The stock rose 4.6% this year through Monday’s close.
In addition to raising its comparable-sales forecast, the company said it now expects consolidated net sales to be slightly positive for the full year in constant currency, up from a prior expectation of a low-single-digit decline. Walmart also adjusted its operating income and earnings-per-share expectations.
The company attributed the changes to enduring strength in the U.S. economy, and it said it expects “no significant additional government stimulus for the remainder of the year.” Executives in May said the second quarter was starting well in part because of the impact of stimulus checks for shoppers, which boosted consumers’ spending power.
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While the aid has mostly been used by now, many American families have started receiving advance payments tied to child tax credits. The grocery industry could get as much as an $8 billion lift from the tax-credit payments in the second half of the year, Cowen analyst Oliver Chen estimated in an Aug. 10 note.
The potential boost comes as Walmart, one of the retail industry’s big winners last year, grapples with the challenges of hanging onto new customers amid heightened competition and supply-chain disruptions. While the bulk of COVID-19-related expenses have subsided, Walmart and other retailers now face rising costs for transportation and labor, and they need to decide how much of vendor price hikes can be passed along to shoppers.
Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce sales, another closely watched metric, rose just 6% in the quarter ended July 31. Online sales got a substantial boost during pandemic lockdowns, but demand has been expected to slow as shoppers venture back into stores.
In a sign of how much online demand has decelerated, e-commerce contributed only 0.2% to Walmart’s U.S. comparable sales gain in the quarter, compared with a 6% contribution a year ago.
To further boost its online business, the retailer debuted Walmart+, an online subscription to compete with a similar offering from Amazon, about a year ago. But the retailer has said little about its performance, even downplaying its importance.