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MOVING ON

Walmart’s CEO is ready for the Trump era to be over

Caution tape hangs at the entrance of a temporarily closed Walmart store in Quincy, Massachusetts
Reuters/Brian Snyder/
Walmart is ready to move into the Biden era.
  • Marc Bain
By Marc Bain

Fashion reporter

While US president Donald Trump refuses to concede that former vice president Joe Biden won the US election, the CEO of Walmart, America’s largest retailer, has already moved on.

“I want to wrap up by saying congratulations to president-elect Biden,” Doug McMillon, Walmart’s CEO since 2014, said on a call with analysts today to discuss the company’s recent quarter. “We look forward to working with the administration in both houses of Congress to move the country forward and solve issues on behalf of our associates, customers, and other stakeholders.”

The statement was noteworthy given the intense partisan divide in the US, reflected in the large number of Trump’s Republican supporters who insist Biden’s win was not legitimate. Much of the Republican base is in regions such as the US south and midwest, areas Arkansas-based Walmart has traditionally relied on for a big portion of its sales (pdf).

Even so, McMillon and others aren’t hesitating to prepare for work with the incoming Biden administration. Among them is the Business Roundtable, for example, an association of CEOs from some of America’s top companies, with board members from firms including Apple, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, CVS, Cisco, and more. McMillon has been its chairman since last year. On Nov. 7, it issued a statement congratulating Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, on their win. “We look forward to working with the incoming Biden Administration and all federal and state policymakers,” it said.

The group also included a statement on Trump: “While we respect the Trump campaign’s right to seek recounts, to call for investigation of alleged voting irregularities where evidence exists and to exhaust legitimate legal remedies, there is no indication that any of these would change the outcome.” It went on to say it has the “utmost confidence that the outcome reflects the will of the American people.”

High on Walmart’s agenda for the new administration is economic assistance for Americans left unemployed by the coronavirus pandemic. The $2 trillion stimulus package US lawmakers passed in March put cash in Americans’ pockets that they in turn used on everything from restaurants to groceries. It helped businesses small and large, including Walmart, which noted on its call that the stimulus spending that boosted it in the first half of the year waned in the recent quarter. McMillon said on the call it will be imperative “that elected officials in Washington work together to deliver the help so many small businesses need to get through this next phase of the pandemic.”

Another bill might not have the same effect, however, as many consumers say they would save the money or use it to pay down debt, according to research by the New York Fed. For now, it may be a moot point anyway. Washington lawmakers appear unable to agree on how much stimulus is needed and what form it should take.

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