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Walmart grows stronger in pandemic; Canadian sales up 1.3%

Big-box retailer sees gains in its third quarter and prepares for a COVID-19 holiday shopping season

Walmart turned out another stellar quarter as the world's largest retailer powers through a pandemic.

Third-quarter profits surged 56% and revenue hit US$133.75 billion, a 5.3% increase. Online sales spiked nearly 80% after nearly doubling in the previous quarter.

Sales at stores opened at least one year rose 6.4%.

Net sales at Walmart International, which includes retail units in Mexico, United Kingdom, Central America and Canada, were $29.6 billion, an increase of 1.3%. Changes in currency rates negatively affected net sales by approximately $1.1 billion.

It is a promising sign for Walmart ahead of the coming holiday season, and the quarter provides more evidence that its expansion into online grocery is widening the gap with rivals. In September it launched a membership program to deliver what people want more than ever in a pandemic as they reduce their public exposure: convenience.

Customer loyalty at big box stores grew stronger even as spring lockdowns were lifted, but infections are surging again and that could deal another round of pain to other retailers.

Walmart is making further accommodations for that surge, spreading its traditional Black Friday sale over three separate events in November. Some of the most enticing offers are going online to encourage customers to stay at home.

While Walmart navigates the surge in infections it many regions in the U.S., it is retreating further from efforts to expand internationally.

Walmart on Monday said it would sell off 85% of its Japanese supermarket subsidiary Seiyu in a deal valued at $1.6 billion. It said earlier this month it was backing out of Argentina.

Last month, Walmart said it would sell its British supermarket chain Asda for 6.8 billion pounds ($8.8 billion), though it will keep a minority stake and a seat of the board.

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