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Amazon’s Retail Dominance Kept in Check by Walmart’s Food Sales

Walmart store

Since 2019, PYMNTS Intelligence has closely tracked the battle between the U.S.’s two top retailers, Walmart and Amazon, and each quarter we share our findings in our “Whole Paycheck Report.” 

As is made clear by the title of our most recent report, “New Consumer Spend Data Finds Amazon Way Ahead of Walmart,” Amazon overpowered Walmart in nearly every retail category in Q4 2023.

The report, which is based on earnings reports from both companies as well as national data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis, found that during the 2023 holiday season, Amazon rang up gross sales of $209 billion, while Walmart earned $141 billion during the same period. 

Amazon’s sales in home furnishings, electronics and appliances, retail clothing and health and personal care were especially strong, helping it easily outpace Walmart. In fact, Amazon’s overall retail sales accounted for 4.4% of all U.S. consumer spending in Q4 in 2023 — and 10% of all of last year’s U.S. retail sales. 

Considering this retail dominance, it might be tempting to write off Walmart’s 2023 performance, at least compared to its eCommerce rival, but as the Whole Paycheck Report reveals, Walmart’s continues to outpace Amazon in sustenance sales.

consumer spending, food and beverages 

As the chart above shows, Walmart continually crushes Amazon when it comes to food and beverage sales, quarter after quarter, dating back to PYMNTS Intelligence first Whole Paycheck Report in 2019. In Q4 2023 alone, Walmart’s share of that segment was nearly 19%, a share that reflected an increase of 3.3% from the same period in 2022. Meanwhile, Amazon had to settle for the more modest 2.9% in the same quarter.

Once upon a time — circa 2017 — Amazon acquired Whole Foods in a bid to expand its food and beverage footprint. More recently, the eCommerce giant has been redesigning its Amazon Fresh stores and phasing out its cashierless Just Walk Out technology, which was met with mixed reactions from consumers.

The 2017 acquisition and the subsequent enhancements were likely intended to give Amazon a leg up in food and beverage sales, but as PYMNTS Intelligence data confirms, so far, Walmart continues to dominate the grocery aisle.