Retail behemoth Walmart ended Friday’s trading session in the green on a day when the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed another 360 points.
Walmart, a Dow Jones component member, reversed early morning declines and traded higher on heavy volume after media outlets reported on an encouraging update. According to documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal, same-store sales rose nearly 20% over the past four weeks.
Online sales on its core Walmart.com site rose 30% over the past eight week period, WSJ also noted. A company spokesperson declined to issue any comments to WSJ although investors appear to be viewing the numbers as accurate.
What are people buying?
The document viewed by WSJ included some commentary on what consumers are buying in stores. Before the coronavirus forced a near-shutdown of the American economy, consumers were focused on buying “proactive health-minded” products, like hand sanitizers.
After the first wave of mass-buying, consumers started to buy face masks along with other products and tools to help contain the virus. The third wave was highlighted by consumers spending more money on shelf-stable food products and frozen food items. Health and safety products and snacks were also cited as being in heavy demand.
The fourth wave of buying was dubbed by Walmart as “quarantine living preparation” where items like rice, water, and flour were flying off the shelves.
The current wave of buying was dubbed “restricted living” where buying habits focused on preparing for a prolonged period at home. Tech gadgets like iPads and routers were in high demand. Consumers also bought board games, home exercise equipment devices and small appliances.
Consistent with what is seen across the world, American consumers aren’t alone in stocking up on goods, and in some cases hoarding supplies. Walmart also conducted a survey in March where nearly 70% of respondents said they will continue current shopping behaviors “as long as it takes.”
A ‘new normal’
According to WSJ, overall consumer goods sales were up 21.5% for the week ended March 28. But this marks a deceleration from 67.9% seen in the week ended March 21. It would be reasonable to assume that Walmart’s massive physical retail presence of more than 3,000 stores and a reputation of ultra-competitive prices implies it is outperforming the overall average.
Walmart’s document noted it expects a “new normal” to emerge after the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control. As the American public returns to their prior daily routines, consumer preferences may shift towards group gatherings and celebrating occasions with friends and family.