US retailers Walmart and Home Depot see sales boosted by pandemic spending

Home Depot reported third-quarter earnings that beat estimates as consumers continued to focus on home improvements

Walmart reported a bigger-than-expected increase in quarterly store sales and beat profit expectations.

Sales at its US stores that have been open for at least a year rose 6.4 per cent, excluding fuel, in the third quarter ended October 31 compared to analyst expectations of 4.16 per cent.

The rise in demand for essentials at Walmart seen at the start of the coronavirus lockdowns continued into the second half of the year, with consumers relying on its same-day delivery options and store pick-up services.

Despite a slow start to the back-to-school shopping season, which begins in July, Walmart said it benefited later in the quarter from the delayed start.

It also said it incurred about $600m (£453m, €505m) in additional Covid-19 expenses that included higher wages for warehouse workers and bonuses for store employees, as well as spending more on keeping its facilities clean. 

The retailer had recorded about $1.5bn in such expenses in the prior quarter.

Meanwhile, operating income rose 22.5 per cent to $5.79bn in the third quarter, while Walmart reported adjusted earnings per share of $1.34 that beat expectations of $1.18.

Total revenue rose 5.2 per cent to $134.71bn, beating estimates for $132.23bn.

Walmart shares have risen 28 per cent so far this year.

Similarly, Home Depot reported third-quarter earnings that beat estimates as consumers continued to focus on home improvements during the pandemic.

Sales surged 24 per cent from a year ago and it reported revenue of $33.54bn versus $32.04bn expected. 

Net sales rose 23 per cent to $33.54bn, from $27.22bn reported a year ago. The retailer topped analyst expectations of $32.04bn. 

Its US same-store sales rose 24.6 per cent in the quarter. The company said it was continuing to benefit from the stay-at-home spending through the beginning of November.

As of Monday’s close, shares of Home Depot are up 28 per cent this year. 

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