EVERY BIT COUNTS

Walmart maintains its US sales streak amid a major housekeeping effort

Walmart’s fourth quarter sales in the US rose slightly for the sixth consecutive time.
Walmart’s fourth quarter sales in the US rose slightly for the sixth consecutive time.
Image: REUTERS/Nacho Doce
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Walmart’s same-store sales in the US ticked up in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, marking the sixth consecutive quarter the world’s largest retailer has posted a year-over-year gain by that measure in its home market.

The 0.6% same-store increase—though short of analyst expectations of 1%—was important because it illustrates how the company has sustained at least a little growth following a period of sales contractions.

On Thursday (Feb. 18), Walmart reported that sales at all US stores clocked in at $81.5 billion during the quarter, a 2.4% increase from the same quarter a year earlier. Shares were down by about 3% in early afternoon trading.

The results come in the midst of a company housekeeping effort, in which the Bentonville, Arkansas-based giant is trying to make its shopping experience more pleasant and efficient for consumers. Globally, sales in the fourth quarter fell to $128 billion, down from $130 billion the previous year.

Net income attributable to Walmart fell about 8% for the quarter to $4.6 billion, as the company has moved to increase employee wages, shutter some stores and renovate others, and invest in its e-commerce operation to better challenge online rival Amazon. Overall e-commerce sales were up over the past year by 12%, accounting for $13.7 billion of total sales.