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Retail Industry Updates

Walmart Raising Starting Wages for 425,000 Employees

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On the same day that Walmart reported record fourth-quarter revenue, as well as a substantial increase in revenue for the fiscal year, the nation’s largest retailer also announced it is raising starting wages for 425,000 U.S. employees to $13-$19 per hour, based on the store’s location and market. Walmart employs about 1.5 million employees in the U.S.

“We did a lot right last year, and our customers rewarded us,” John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., wrote in a note to employees. “Today (Feb. 18), I’m happy to share an investment in the people who are central to making that happen.

“It follows other actions we took last year, including special COVID-19 bonuses, raising pay for 165,000 key leadership roles, and restructuring to a team-based model of working in our stores,” Furner continued. “Whatever your role, know that we’ll continue to support and invest in you. This is especially true for our hourly associates: 75% of our Walmart management team began as hourly associates, and we’re committed to offering strong wages, valuable benefits and training and development opportunities that allow someone to grow a career with us.”

Furner, who joined Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart in 1993, told employees that “we’ll all remember 2020 as an unprecedented year in which our people truly made a difference.” He cited the unpredicted challenges that employees faced running the business. “You helped people feel safe, and many of you also played an invaluable role administering COVID-19 tests and now vaccines,” he stressed in the note.

Walmart reported its U.S. comparable sales grew 8.6% in the fourth quarter and its e-commerce sales grew 69% when compared to the previous fourth quarter. Total revenue for the quarter was a record $152.1 billion, an increase of $10.4 billion, or 7.3%, from the previous fourth quarter.

Sam’s Club, the club store chain Walmart operates, saw comparable sales increase 10.8% and e-commerce sales grow 42% in the fourth quarter. Membership income increased 12.9%, the strongest growth in six years for Sam’s Club.

For the year, Walmart said its annual revenue of nearly $560 billion resulted in $35 billion of growth or 6.7%. Furner said that in addition to the pay raise, Walmart will continue to invest in its supply chain, automation and technology. The company said it will invest nearly $14 billion this year to build supply chain capacity and automation to stay ahead of demand, improve the customer experience and increase productivity. That’s about $3 billion more than the retailer spent in 2020.

Walmart also said net sales and operating income are expected to decline this year due to the impact of anticipated divestitures.

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