Walmart to boost pay for 425K employees after posting strong holiday sales

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart Inc. doubled down Thursday on plans to raise average pay above $15 per hour for about 425,000 employees, despite posting lackluster fourth-quarter profits.

Bolstered by shifting consumer habits amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, the retail behemoth’s comparable store sales increased 8.6% in the quarter ended Jan. 29, while year-over-year online sales – including grocery orders – increased 69%, the company reported in its earnings statement.

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The company’s strong fourth-quarter sales growth was fueled primarily by customers stocking up on toys, electronics and groceries and the $600 stimulus checks disbursed by the government just before year’s end, Fox Business reported.

Walmart’s minimum starting wage for U.S. workers will remain at $11 an hour, but pay hikes will target store workers in “digital and stocking roles” including those who gather products from store shelves for online orders picked up in parking lots or delivered to homes, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“We saw major changes to customer behavior last year we believe will be lasting, and we have to continue working to stay in-stock, deliver items on time and provide the best omni experience possible,” Walmart U.S. Chief Executive John Furner said in the prepared statement.

According to the Journal, pay for workers in those targeted roles will increase from $13 to $19 per hour, based on a store’s location, beginning March 13. Rivals Inc. and Target Corp. have already instituted $15-an-hour starting wages for all workers.

Meanwhile, charges associated with the sale of its operations in the United Kingdom and Japan swung the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer to a net loss of nearly $2.1 billion, or 74 cents per share, compared with the year-earlier profit of $4.1 billion, Fox Business reported.

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