Panic-buying boosts profits, tests supply chain at Walmart

21 May, 2020 12:00 AM printer

NEW YORK: Booming demand for groceries and essential items lifted Walmart's first-quarter profits, even as the company struggled during the coronavirus crisis to replenish key items like toilet paper and cleaning supplies, the company said recently.

"Our supply chain is amongst the most capable in the world, but in this environment we have stretched it," said Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, who estimated that US inventories were down about eight percent at the end of the period, reports AFP.

"Job number one in the US is to get back in stock," McMillon said on a conference call with analysts.

Walmart's e-commerce business surged a staggering 74 percent in the quarter ending April 30, with home-bound customers opting for grocery delivery at home or for click-and-pickup options at stores.

This included an influx of new customers drawn to Walmart's broad product slate, many of whom have become repeat customers, executives said.  The results topped analyst expectations despite higher costs connected to the COVID-19 crisis such as bonuses for hourly workers and extra money for store cleaning.