Walmart CEO Says Customers Want to Shop in High Earnings Report

Walmart blew past earnings expectations in the first quarter of 2021, reporting a same-store sales increase of 6%.

The retail giant reported first quarter revenue of $138.3 billion, an increase of $3.7 billion, or 2.7% from the year prior. Operating income during the first three months of the year increased 26.8%. Total net income reached $2.73 billion, or $0.97 per share. Adjusted earnings per share of $1.69 exceeded analysts’ expectations of $1.21 and the $1.118 figure from a year ago.

Like many other retailers, Walmart’s sales were boosted by stimulus payments to Americans in March, which led to more spending. Consolidated operating income was $6.9 billion, an increase of 32.3%.

“This was a strong quarter,” Doug McMillon, Walmart president and CEO, said in a statement. “Every segment performed well, and we’re encouraged by traffic and grocery market share trends. Our optimism is higher than it was at the beginning of the year. In the U.S., customers clearly want to get out and shop. We have a strong position as our store environment improves and eCommerce continues to grow. Stimulus in the U.S. had an impact, and the second half has more uncertainty than a typical year.”

Walmart’s eCommerce saw huge growth during the quarter, with sales rising 37%. Over the last two years, eCommerce sales have more than doubled. Sam’s Club sales rose 7.2%, while eCommerce sales jumped 47%. Additionally, membership income increased 12.7%, with the number of members reaching a new all-time high.

“We anticipate continued pent-up demand throughout 2021,” McMillon said. “Our results reflect the continued hard work and commitment our associates have shown throughout the pandemic - serving others and helping provide vaccines - and we’re grateful to them.” 

Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, operating more than 10,500 stores and clubs under 48 banners in 24 countries and eCommerce websites.