Walmart sees sales climb in first quarter

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart reported strong first-quarter sales that included gains in its U.S. business, which got a lift from aggressive pricing that lured more shoppers into its stores.

Store visits rose 1.5% in the quarter, a period in which many retailers saw fewer shoppers. Heavy discounting contributed to a slight decline in average basket size.

Today’s earnings report also shows that Walmart’s efforts to expand its digital business are bearing fruit, as e-commerce sales rose 63% in its fiscal first quarter.

The company said revenue increased 1.4% to $117.5 billion. Excluding currency fluctuations, the gain was 2.4%, Walmart said.

Walmart U.S. same-store sales increased 1.4% from a year earlier. It was the 11th consecutive increase for U.S. comps.

Comparable-store sales at the Sam’s Club division increased 1.6%, excluding fuel, while traffic at the warehouse clubs increased 1.1%. Digital growth at Sam’s Club “Club Pickup” increased nearly 30%, according to the company.

“We can see that we’re moving faster to combine our digital and physical assets to make shopping easier and more enjoyable for customers, but we can also see plenty of room to improve,” Doug McMillon, the company’s president and chief executive officer, said during an earnings conference call.

“We need to scale our e-commerce business further and see some additional strength in our store comps to deliver the results we know we’re capable of, so that’s what we’re focused on,” McMillon said.

Walmart also reported progress in its grocery business at its U.S. stores, with food categories contributing the strongest quarterly comps in more than three years, due in part to a decline in deflation in food.

Internationally, Walmart’s sales declined 3.5% in the first quarter to $27.1 billion. Seven of its 11 international markets reported positive comps.



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