As the company noted in its earnings report from February 19, e-commerce sales rose by 4.2% in January, becoming one of the grocery chain's biggest quarterly upticks in a decade. This value exceeded forecasts, which were about 3%.
The key to Walmart's success has been accessibility; there's a Walmart store within ten miles of 90% of Americans. An uptick in sales occurred especially in the toys and gifts department, seeing as we have just come out of the holiday season and shoppers are always looking for cheaper gift items. The folding of former competitor Toys R Us and the ongoing struggles at rival Sears
"We experienced a favorable economic environment in the U.S. for much of the year," which helped lift grocery spending, said Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon. "Progress on initiatives to accelerate growth, along with a favorable economic environment, helped us deliver strong comp sales and gain market share," he added.
Because results were so much better than expected, Walmart shares rose 2.2% on Tuesday as investors were left pleasantly surprised.
For the full fiscal year, Walmart's US e-commerce sales increased by 40% overall. This has been integral to endowing Walmart with more visibility among consumers, which is its main unique selling proposition. A large part of the e-commerce success can be accredited to the expansion of online grocery pickup services to over 2,100 of Walmart's 4,600 U.S. stores in the past few months.
With respect to new regulations in India in lieu of Walmart's acquisition of Flipkart, McMillon said: "The things that have happened have been disappointing in some way, but they haven't shaken our confidence and excitement about what this is going to mean to the company long term in India. We hope to have an effective, productive dialogue, as it relates to future changes that happen. But in terms of how the business has behaved, it's in line with what we thought it would be."