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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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 752108

Reported Deaths: 13816
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1033831790
Lake558431013
Allen41736693
St. Joseph37007565
Hamilton36617417
Elkhart29425461
Tippecanoe22938228
Vanderburgh22565400
Porter19369327
Johnson18486389
Hendricks17696317
Clark13233195
Madison13176344
Vigo12631253
LaPorte12429221
Monroe12226176
Delaware10970198
Howard10349224
Kosciusko9643121
Hancock8578147
Bartholomew8174157
Warrick7864156
Floyd7815180
Grant7248179
Wayne7164201
Boone6979103
Morgan6768141
Dubois6224118
Marshall6214116
Cass6024110
Henry5903110
Dearborn589878
Noble581688
Jackson509476
Shelby502396
Lawrence4753122
Gibson445595
Clinton443555
Harrison441775
DeKalb440385
Montgomery439890
Whitley406744
Huntington403381
Steuben400859
Miami395769
Jasper389155
Knox377691
Putnam373461
Wabash362383
Ripley347370
Adams345555
Jefferson336186
White332753
Daviess3035100
Wells295481
Decatur289892
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey274335
LaGrange273272
Scott270356
Clay267148
Washington246336
Randolph245183
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228159
Fountain222048
Sullivan214843
Owen212358
Fulton204043
Jay201032
Carroll193820
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion175344
Franklin170435
Tipton166646
Parke149616
Pike138334
Blackford136232
Pulaski120847
Newton114936
Brown104443
Benton102614
Crawford102516
Martin91815
Warren84115
Switzerland8158
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0424

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1109697

Reported Deaths: 20213
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1289521469
Cuyahoga1158802216
Hamilton814201251
Montgomery525861049
Summit484551006
Lucas43384824
Butler39098606
Stark33355930
Lorain25689506
Warren24612305
Mahoning22388602
Lake21219389
Clermont20138253
Delaware18892136
Licking16671225
Fairfield16589204
Trumbull16560483
Medina15618273
Greene15292248
Clark14244306
Wood13296200
Portage13254216
Allen11919239
Richland11611211
Miami10857225
Wayne9153225
Columbiana9039230
Muskingum8909135
Pickaway8664122
Tuscarawas8654251
Marion8649139
Erie8058165
Ashtabula7171179
Hancock6999133
Ross6948163
Geauga6850151
Scioto6540106
Belmont6159174
Union585049
Lawrence5741102
Jefferson5683159
Huron5554122
Sandusky5444126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5321109
Athens524460
Auglaize502487
Mercer487785
Shelby477095
Knox4573112
Madison444566
Ashland435997
Putnam4336104
Defiance432399
Fulton432274
Crawford4046110
Brown402761
Logan387678
Preble3859105
Clinton379266
Ottawa373581
Highland360266
Williams348578
Champaign344959
Guernsey325254
Jackson318454
Perry297350
Morrow291940
Fayette285750
Hardin275765
Henry273867
Holmes2703101
Coshocton269360
Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240850
Wyandot234756
Hocking220663
Carroll197548
Paulding176642
Meigs148540
Monroe136345
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan110124
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
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