U.S. shoppers snapped up bicycles and sewing machines during shelter-in-place mandates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Walmart (WMT), the world’s largest retailer.
The big-box retailer reported stronger-than-expected first-quarter earnings on Tuesday, driven by a surge in e-commerce and higher traffic in stores for pantry staples and cleaning products. In addition to hard-to-find products like hand sanitizer and toilet paper, shoppers leaped for laptops and office chairs and cleared fabric from the craft department.
On a conference call with analysts, CEO Doug McMillon said the first quarter in the U.S. started as expected. As the virus spread, the mix of sales shifted toward food and consumables, similar to what the company saw in China earlier this year.
In this first phase of shopping, McMillon explained that Walmart saw an “unprecedented demand” for paper goods, surface cleaners, and grocery staples.
“Many of these items were selling in two or three hours what we normally sell in two or three days,” he added.
After consumers stocked up their pantries, McMillon said shoppers entered a second phase, which he described as “entertaining and educating at home.”
“Puzzles and video games took off….
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