The Walton family’s Walmart, the multinational retail corporation that operates hypermarkets, discount department stores and grocery stores, remains the largest retailer in the world, posting record annual revenue of US$559 billion, a rise of US$35 billion on 2019. In comparison, ecommerce website Amazon posted revenue of US$386 billion for the fiscal year, a yearly increase of more than US$100 billion.
Walmart invested heavily to offer an efficient ecommerce service to customers stuck indoors because of the coronavirus pandemic. The publicly traded family-owned business also spent money on healthcare provisions. It is providing COVID-19 vaccinations across the US and in areas the US government defines as medically underserved.
With the US in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, the retailer reported the average value of each customer transaction was up 22 per cent as ecommerce sales rose 69 per cent in the fourth quarter (November to January), while the US industry average for non-store sales increased 23 per cent, Forbes reported.
“Change in retail accelerated in 2020. The capabilities we’ve built in previous years put us ahead, and we’re going to stay ahead. Our business is strong, and we’re making it even stronger with targeted investments to accelerate growth,” said Walmart CEO Doug McMillon in an investor release.
Walmart has invested heavily in technologies to support a seamless digital customer experience and is investing nearly US$14 billion to increase supply chain capacity, fuel productivity and enhance the customer experience by ensuring products are in-stock to meet demand.
The company founded by Sam Walton in 1962 and based in Bentonville, Arkansas, employs 1.5 million people in the US alone. It said it is raising wages to more than US$15 per hour on average. About half of Walmart’s hourly US workers will earn at least $15 an hour, though there are some roles that will still start at US$11 an hour.
Walmart forecasts adjusted net sales to grow in the low single digits in the 2022 fiscal year, which ends 31 January – much lower than the 8.5 per cent growth reported in the 2021 fiscal year.