Walmart (NYSE:WMT) posted positive sales increases in the third quarter, led by a 21 percent increase in e-commerce globally. The positive quarter was also the result of a strong performance from the Neighborhood Market brand, and profits from Sam's Club and international business.
Total revenue for the big box chain increased 2.9 percent to $119 billion. Membership and other income increased 13.9 percent versus the same quarter last year.
Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon stressed the need to strengthen Walmart's sales growth and improve the customer experience, both in stores and online.
"Being the price leader is an ongoing priority for us and a commitment to customers. As with every year, that is even more important during the holiday season. We have some things in our favor this fourth quarter, including lower fuel prices in the U.S. and other key markets, and we're set to deliver for customers during this time," said McMillon.
In the Kantar Retail third annual showdown of Walmart versus Amazon pricing, Walmart.com beat out both Amazon and Walmart Supercenters for lowest prices. While historically the Supercenter has had the lowest price points, this year's results show a closer alignment of Walmart.com and the Supercenter, with Walmart's e-commerce store putting up the most competitive offers.
Walmart received help last quarter from its international stores. International sales totaled $34.1 billion for the quarter, an increase of 2.9 percent year-over-year, and Sam's Club sales were $12.7 billion, an increase of 2.3 percent.
Results were also positively influenced by sales in the company's Neighborhood Market, the smaller-format, inner-city version of Walmart stores. Comparable sales in these stores were up 5.5 percent. The company recently announced it would change the name of its Walmart Express stores and integrate them with the Walmart Neighborhood Market brand. Both are smaller formats with fewer products.
And Sam's Club comp sales increased by 0.4 percent, but membership income rose 10.1 percent and operating income was more than twice the rate of sales growth.
"We continued to see sales increases in Neighborhood Market pharmacy and strong growth in consumables, as we focused on in-stock and optimizing the store with relevant offerings for the customer," said Greg Foran, Walmart U.S. CEO.
Looking specifically at stores in the United States, foot traffic decreased 0.7 percent, however the average ticket increased 1.2 percent. Traffic in Sam's Club was up 0.2 percent and the average ticket increased by the same percentage.
"I'm encouraged by our performance during key seasonal events. We had strong back-to-school results in apparel, home and school supplies, and we ended the quarter well by executing a strong Halloween event," said Foran.
-See this Walmart press release
Walmart's holiday 'checkout promise' to open every register
Walmart customizes online shopping
Walmart buys social shopping app Luvocracy
WalmartLabs buys Stylr mobile app
Walmart's e-receipt a new mobile platform