Coronavirus turns Walmart into an e-commerce dynamo

Big-box retailer is raking in grocery, delivery and pickup sales during COVID-19

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Walmart’s e-commerce sales during the coronavirus pandemic have spiked significantly while customers have been advised to shelter-in-place.

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In the U.S., online orders jumped 44.2 percent to $41.01 billion thus far in 2020, according to recent estimates from market research and insights company eMarketer. This update is 27 percent higher from the firm’s initial estimate in January and is an improvement from Walmart’s estimated 36.8 percent sales growth from 2019.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
WMTWALMART INC.130.68+2.93+2.29%

The billions of dollars that Walmart has made from the nation’s current health care crisis has solidified the company’s second-place spot on eMarketer’s “top 10 e-commerce companies list.” So far, the global retail chain is still behind Amazon but has outperformed eBay in terms of sales, which is expected to grow three percent this year, according to eMarketer.

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Online grocery delivery and pickup services have been in high demand during the pandemic, which is how Walmart has reportedly brought in its heightened revenue.

Digital sales increased by 74 percent, according to Walmart’s first-quarter earnings for 2020, which is nearly double the 37 percent growth rate the company observed the same period last year.

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“The number of new customers using pickup and delivery had increased fourfold since mid-March,” Walmart President Doug McMillon said during a recent earnings call.

A separate survey from Gordon Haskett Research Advisors in March seemingly echoed McMillon’s statement by revealing 58 percent of U.S. online grocery shoppers made their first purchase with Walmart.

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For this reason, eMarketer predicts Walmart will grow its share of total U.S. e-commerce sales to 5.8 percent for 2020 – which is up from its last year’s estimate of 4.7 percent in 2019.

Walmart also recently announced that it has temporarily converted 2,500 stores to fulfillment centers to address its backlogged online operations. Moreover, the company has recently launched a two-hour Express Delivery service at 1,000 stores.

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“It is a big advantage being an omnichannel retailer and I think that is showing right now,” Walmart CFO Brett Briggs told The Wall Street Journal. “We were able to quickly use stores to fill online orders.”