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Walmart raises wages, sales continue to rise

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A Walmart store sign is visible from Route 28 on Wednesday November 18, 2020 in Derry, NH (AP Photo / Charles Krupa)

NEW YORK (AP) Walmart raises the wages of 425,000 of its 1.5 million U.S. workers, investing $ 14 billion this year to accelerate its distribution network as the nation’s largest retailer undergoes sweeping industry changes which have been accelerated by the pandemic.

Walmart Inc. on Thursday reported a mixed performance for the fourth quarter. It swung to a loss in part due to costs related to the pandemic and the sale of its Japan and UK divisions. But sales jumped 7.4% in the period that includes the critical holiday shopping season. Sales of stores open for at least one year increased 8.6%, compared to 6.4% in the previous quarter.

While online sales jumped 69%, that is a drop from a peak of 80% in the previous period and was the slowest growth since the start of the pandemic. The company also said it expects overall sales to decline this year. Shares fell nearly 6% at the start of the session.

This is the steepest one-day sale in almost a year.

Walmart has made every effort to ensure fast and convenient delivery during the pandemic. But even the massive infrastructure Walmart has put in place in recent years has been strained by crushing orders from millions of people sheltering in their homes.

This means even more expense to accommodate buyers increasingly accustomed to home shopping. The company this year announced plans to build warehouses in stores where autonomous robots will collect groceries to be picked up within an hour or less by customers. And that was before Thursday’s announcement that it was increasing related spending by $ 14 billion.

Change in retail has accelerated in 2020, said CEO Doug McMillon. The capabilities we have built in previous years put us forward and would stay ahead. Our company is strong and made it even stronger through targeted investments to accelerate growth.

Walmart said Thursday it was increasing its average hourly wage to more than $ 15 an hour, from more than $ 14 an hour. Salary increases will be concentrated in the online and storage roles. As of March 13, compensation for workers in these jobs will increase to between $ 13 and $ 19 an hour, depending on store locations.

Walmart raised its starting hourly wage from $ 9 to $ 11 not too long ago, and that starting wage will stay. Amazon and Target have already raised hourly wages to $ 15 for all workers.

Walmart Inc. lost $ 2.09 billion, or 74 cents per share, compared to last year’s $ 4.14 billion fourth-quarter profit, or $ 1.45 per share. Adjusted earnings per share came in at $ 1.39, which was well below the $ 1.51 expected by Wall Street, according to a FactSet survey.

The numbers lead to a $ 1.1 billion drop in pandemic-related costs, CFO Brett Biggs said Thursday, resulting in a leak of around 37 cents per share of profits, along with one-time charges from Japan and the United Kingdom.

Walmart announced at the end of last year it would sell 85% of its Japanese subsidiary of supermarket Seiyu in a transaction valued at 172.5 billion yen (1.6 billion dollars). It came a month later sold its British supermarket chain Asda for 6.8 billion pounds ($ 8.8 billion), although it retains a minority stake.

Walmarts ‘wage costs also increased as it increased workers’ hours to ensure a smooth holiday season.

Net revenues reached $ 150.98 billion, better than industry analysts’ forecast of $ 148.5 billion, and easily topped the $ 140.6 billion in fourth quarter revenue. last year.

Walmart is on its way to becoming one of the largest distributors of the COVID-19 vaccine as the United States relies more on pharmacies. Walmart operates more than 5,000 pharmacies, including more than 4,000 in areas that the government has designated as “medically underserved” or that have limited pharmacy options.

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