Walmart shares were up nearly 9% Thursday morning after the retailer posted higher-than-expected quarterly profit and revenue amid a weak overall retail landscape.
The company posted first-quarter earnings per share of 98 cents, versus $1.03 a share last year. Revenue rose to $115.9 billion for the quarter, up from $114.83 billion a year earlier.
In the US, same-store sales rose 1% in the quarter, driven by a 1.5% increase in traffic.
Walmart attributed the gains in part to its investments in labour, which in turn have resulted in a better store experience for customers.
The company last year committed to investing $2.7 billion over two years in wage increases, scheduling improvements, and employee training.
Walmart US President Greg Foran said many associates are spending their extra income at stores.
“We are seeing an improvement of associates purchasing in our stores,” Foran told reporters on Thursday.
The wage increases and training are also helping morale.
“Associates are feeling a little bit more engaged,” he said.
Employees are doing a better job at keeping shelves stocked and the stores and parking lots are cleaner, he said.
Customers are noticing the changes.
“Our customers continue to tell us they are happy with the changes we’re making in our stores, as evidenced by our customer experience scores, which rose again this quarter versus last year,” said Brett Biggs executive vice president and chief financial officer of Walmart stores, on a call with analysts.
Foran said there’s still room for more improvement, however.
“We’ve still got a long way to go, we’ve still got plenty of stores that [need improvement],” he said.
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