A rare miss for Walmart U.S. to end the year

Retailer’s profit and sales take a dip after a shortened holiday shopping period

Walmart reported disappointing fourth-quarter profits and sales after a sluggish and shortened holiday shopping season.

It's a rare miss for Walmart, which has distanced itself from rivals through strong online grocery sales while holding its own against Amazon.com.

Walmart's numbers underscore a multitude of challenges that retailers faced this holiday season. It was the shortest holiday shopping season since 2013, leaving retailers to figure out how to get people thinking about the holidays sooner. Walmart, for instance, ramped up deliveries and other conveniences for customers.

READ: Walmart’s produce section is getting a makeover

Walmart continued to produce strong results from its grocery aisles, helped by expanded online delivery in the U.S and Canada. It now has thousands of locations for grocery pickup and more than 1,400 locations that offer grocery delivery in the U.S.

Last fall, it launched "Delivery Unlimited," which costs US$98 annually and $12.95 monthly for unlimited grocery delivery. It also launched a delivery service in three U.S. cities, giving customers the option to have the delivery person put purchases directly into the refrigerator when they're not home.

In Canada, Walmart launched grocery pickup and delivery in Montreal through a partnership with Foodora and expanded its partnership with Instacart to communities across Canada.

Walmart posted same store sales of 1.9% in the quarter, well below the 3.2% increase in the previous period. It was, however, the 22nd consecutive quarter of same-store sales gains.

Online sales rose 35%, weaker than the 41% increase booked in the previous quarter.

Quarterly net income was $4.14 billion in the quarter ended Jan. 31. That compares with $3.69 billion in the same period a year ago.

Revenue rose 2.1% to $140.6 billion, shy of the $141.5 billion Wall Street was looking for.

Violent social protests in Chile cut into international sales, which also includes operations in Canada, China, India, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Walmart International reported US$33 billion in net sales for the quarter–an increase of 2.3%. International net sales for fiscal 2020 increased 2.8% thanks to strong results in Mexico, China and India.



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