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Walmart raises forecast and says shelves are stocked for holiday shoppers

Walmart Inc. reported another quarter of higher sales, as prices rose for some products and consumers shopped early for the winter holidays.

Comparable sales, those from U.S. stores and digital channels operating for at least 12 months, increased 9.2% in the quarter ended Oct. 29 compared with the same period last year. U.S. e-commerce sales rose 8% from a year ago, when shoppers flooded online because of the pandemic.

More shoppers visited stores than they did in the same period last year, with traffic up 5.7% and spending per trip up 3.3%, a sign that shopping habits may be normalizing after last year’s extreme shifts in buying behavior.

Growth rose from earlier in the year as holiday shopping kicked off in October and strong grocery sales helped lift numbers after Walmart’s grocery sales lagged behind compared with some competitors earlier in the pandemic. Walmart said it had more products flowing through its supply chain this quarter than the same period last year when pandemic demand for some products strained supply. U.S. inventory rose 11.5% in the quarter as “preparation for an expected strong holiday season,” the company said.

“We gained marketshare in grocery in the U.S., and more customers and members are returning to our stores and clubs around the world,” said Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon in a news release Tuesday. He said that Walmart has enough products to serve customers over the holiday season at a time when supply-chain snarls are making some products hard to find on store shelves.

Walmart’s sales beat analysts expectations of around a 6.7% increase, according to FactSet.

Adjusted earnings per share for the quarter hit $1.45. Walmart raised its full year guidance for earnings per share to around $6.40 compared with a previous range set earlier this year of $6.20 to $6.35.

Walmart’s shares rose around 2% in premarket trading Tuesday.

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