There’s a silver lining for at least one retailer amid the coronavirus pandemic. A new survey found that Walmart Inc., the nation’s largest retail store chain, saw its year-over-year online grocery sales explode last month to reach nearly $900 million, nearly twice the amount seen in March of 2019.
Chain Store Age (CSA), a New Jersey-based provider of retail news and analysis, reported that Walmart’s March sales were up 21 percent from February. CSA credited the skyrocketing sales to the high demand for products as customers stocked up amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not surprisingly, among the top-selling items were hand sanitizer, which flew off the shelves representing a 307 percent rise in sales; alcohol, which surged 143 percent; toilet paper, up 133 percent; and cough and cold remedies, which were up 116 percent.
Walmart shoppers spent an average of $127 per order in March. That's up from $113, or 11 percent more than usual, the report said.
Last month, John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., and Kathryn McLay, president and CEO of Sam’s Club, said that a number of measures have been taken to deal with the crisis in their stores, such as closing overnight for cleaning, installing sneeze guards at checkout and pharmacies, using wipes and sprayers for carts, posting social distancing signs and implementing a COVID-19 emergency leave policy.
One week ago, Walmart announced that as a result of the public health impact from the outbreak, its annual shareholders’ meeting set for June 3 will be conducted virtually. While shareholders will be able to attend the meeting online, there will not be a physical location for the event.
Walmart serves more than 265 million customers weekly in 11,500 stores across 27 countries. The retailer employs more than 2.2 million associates worldwide. Last year, it had $524 billion in revenue.