As Walmart becomes a lifeline, online sales surged 74%

Coronavirus Watch

FILE – In this Sunday, April 5, 2020 file photo, Joel Porro and Lizz Hernandez wear gloves and protective masks as they put bags in the trunk of their car after shopping at Walmart Supercenter in Miami. On Friday, April 10, 2020, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly asserting that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, effective immediately, Walmart is adopting a staggered shopping schedule based on age. Walmart is offering special hours for seniors but has not designated times for people to shop by age group. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart became a lifeline to millions of people as the coronavirus spread and its profit and sales surged during the first quarter, topping almost all expectations.

Online sales jumped 74%, fueled by a rush on canned foods, paper towels and other supplies as people sheltered in place.

The company said Tuesday that same-store sales surged 10% at U.S. Walmart stores.

But costs soared as well.

The company spent $900 million in additional compensation for workers who manned checkout lines and kept goods flowing at warehouses.

Walmart pulled its guidance for the year, citing the chaos of the pandemic.

The Bentonville, Arkansas, company 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 is one of the first major retailers to report on operations as the the virus gripped the United States. Others, like Macy’s were forced to close to curb the spread of the virus.

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(This story was originally published on May 19, 2020)

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