This morning, August 18, Walmart (WMT) reported that comparable store sales climbed 9.3% year over year for the company’s fiscal second quarter that ended on July 31. Sales for its e-commerce unit jumped 97% year over year. That was up from growth of 74% in the final first quarter.
But the company’s results carried a strong warning for the economy going forward. The hefty sales growth, the company said, was buoyed by coronavirus stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits. “As stimulus funds tapered off, sales started to normalize.” “Normalizing” for Walmart still meant 4% growth in comparable sales in July, but that’s a significant step down from the 9.3% comparable sales growth for the entire quarter. In its earnings presentation for the quarter, Walmart noted that “Q2 sales started strong, both in-store and online, particularly in general merchandise, helped by government stimulus spending. Grocery sales had another strong quarter. As stimulus funds tapered off, sales started to normalize, but July comps still grew more than 4%.”
For the quarter earnings, adjusted for for one time gains and costs, m were $1.56. That easily beat Wall Street projections of $1.22.
Other retailers supported Walmart’s view of the economy. For example, Kohl’s (KSS), which is much more reliant on discretionary spending in categories such as apparel than Walmart is, reported today that revenue fell 23% year over year in the second quarter. That drop doesn’t bode well for back to school spending.
Walmart shares were off 0.76% at the close.