Walmart surges heading into holidays

Walmart continues to grow, increasing investors' confidence in the company's ability to navigate upheaval in...

Walmart continues to grow, increasing investors' confidence in the company's ability to navigate upheaval in retail.

Sales at stores open for at least a year increased 3.4% last quarter compared to a year earlier, while digital sales expanded 43%. Walmart (WMT) also raised its guidance for the full year: It expects same-store sales to expand by at least 3%.

Walmart's high expectations heading into the holidays contrasted against Amazon, its biggest competitor. Last month, Amazon warned of a weaker-than-expected holiday, driving its stock down.

"Walmart is flexing that store network and demonstrating it is going to be a significant player online," said Moody's lead retail analyst Charlie O'Shea.

Walmart was coming off its fastest sales growth in more than a decade. Like other big retailers, such as Home Depot and Macy's this week, Walmart has been lifted by rising wages and low unemployment.

"Consumers remained in good shape," CFO Brent Biggs said on a call with reporters Thursday. "Certainly, this kind of environment everybody likes."

Facing tough competition during the holidays, Walmart is outfitting store workers with mobile checkout scanners to ring up customers on the spot. It is also adding detailed digital store maps to its mobile app to allow shoppers to quickly find aisles and products.

Executing a strategy

Walmart has recently been operating a two-track plan designed for different customer segments.

It's offering cheaper and more convenient ways to buy groceries for its low-and-middle income base at stores, while scooping up high-end digital brands and retailers— including Eloquii and Bare Necessities last quarter — to draw wealthier shoppers online.

Walmart's spread-out store base is its biggest competitive advantage to reach mid-income shoppers. 90% of the US population lives within 10 miles of a Walmart. It has poured investments into cleaning up those stores and ensuring items are in stock on the shelves.

The store base allows Walmart to offer time-pressed shoppers new options to choose from, such as delivery, curbside pickup and pickup in automated towers inside hundreds of stores.

Walmart will expand curbside pickup to around 3,100 stores by next year and grocery delivery to reach 60% of the country.

"We feel that we get a good halo effect around it," Walmart US CEO Greg Foran said about the new improvements in online grocery.

Walmart's clothing and toy sales gained last quarter, too. It has been growing its toy selection to pick up the market Toys "R" Us left behind when it filed for bankruptcy.

"Toys are going to continue to be a big focus for us," Walmart US CEO Greg Foran told reporters.

The company is taking several steps online.

It has redesigned its website to appeal to wealthier customers and convince top brands to sell on it. For example, Walmart announced a partnership with Advance Auto Parts last quarter for a dedicated storefront on the site.

To appeal to younger and wealthier shoppers in cities, Walmart last quarter relaunched Jet.com, the online marketplace it bought two years ago from Lore for $3.3 billion.

Jet is offering speedy grocery delivery and adding premium brands like Nike, Apple, Blue Apron and Bonobos that can't sell on Walmart's main site yet.

Walmart does not need to beat Amazon (AMZN) online since it already gets close to $500 billion in sales from its stores.

"The race online is not to catch Amazon. That's like trying to chase a Ferrari on foot," O'Shea said. Instead, Walmart needs to become an alternative to Amazon. Here, it's fighting against resurgent retailers like Target, Best Buy, and Kohl's.

But it has a long way to go. Walmart has to ramp up the number of items it sells online while also finding a way to make money off them. Walmart mainly offers highly popular items right now, but those sales carry lower profit margins.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115088

Reported Deaths: 3255
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7973177
DeSoto703979
Harrison522384
Jackson457884
Rankin394086
Madison383194
Lee357380
Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
Lafayette250443
Lauderdale2478135
Lamar225538
Oktibbeha202454
Bolivar201677
Neshoba1849111
Lowndes179962
Panola170040
Leflore167187
Sunflower162349
Warren154855
Monroe150673
Pontotoc147220
Marshall143129
Lincoln140157
Pike138456
Copiah137536
Scott125429
Coahoma124937
Grenada122638
Yazoo122234
Simpson121549
Union118825
Tate116839
Leake115041
Holmes114760
Itawamba113925
Pearl River113660
Adams108544
Prentiss106120
Wayne101722
Alcorn100112
George99218
Covington97527
Marion95042
Tippah90322
Newton86627
Chickasaw85526
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 155915

Reported Deaths: 2674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23129377
Mobile16849315
Tuscaloosa10296140
Montgomery10197197
Madison928096
Shelby733863
Baldwin663769
Lee653465
Calhoun456761
Marshall438150
Etowah426551
Houston414834
Morgan412035
DeKalb338829
Elmore320053
St. Clair292542
Limestone284230
Walker277292
Talladega265335
Cullman244024
Lauderdale226242
Jackson214915
Franklin205231
Autauga204831
Colbert200532
Russell19443
Blount192525
Chilton186932
Dallas186527
Coffee176311
Dale175151
Covington174029
Escambia172530
Chambers135044
Clarke134317
Pike133513
Tallapoosa131787
Marion107629
Barbour10319
Marengo100822
Butler100740
Winston92213
Geneva9007
Lawrence85032
Pickens84718
Bibb82814
Randolph82316
Hale76730
Washington74412
Clay74112
Cherokee73314
Lowndes70928
Henry7086
Bullock64817
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60630
Perry5896
Fayette57413
Wilcox56712
Conecuh56113
Cleburne5568
Macon53420
Lamar4905
Sumter47221
Choctaw39012
Greene34216
Coosa2033
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
63° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 63°
Columbus
Overcast
62° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 62°
Oxford
Broken Clouds
57° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 57°
Starkville
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 59°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather