The strong sales figures come at a time of stiff competition among retailers facing Amazon.com Inc. While U.S. consumer spending appears strong, according to July sales data at retailers and restaurants released Tuesday, some apparel and department-store chains are struggling with customers’ changing shopping habits. U.S. grocers, of which Wal-Mart is the largest by sales, are battling over prices.
Results at other companies have varied this season, with department stores Macy’s Inc.and Kohl’s Corp. reporting declining sales, though both pointed to signs of improvement. Sporting-goods retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. posted a sluggish 0.1% sales increase in existing stores, while Home Depot Inc. and discounter TJX Cos. said their quarterly saleswere strong. On Wednesday, Target, which like Wal-Mart has put a renewed focus on lowering prices, reported sales growth and raised its profit forecast. Sales growth at discount clothing chains propelled stronger-than-expected earnings Thursday at GapInc. and Ross Stores Inc.
Wal-Mart’s second-quarter online sales in the U.S. surged 60%. The company purchased online retailer Jet.com in September, followed by deals for smaller sites such as ModCloth, Moosejaw and ShoeBuy. Jet.com founder Marc Lore took the helm of Wal-Mart’s U.S. e-commerce operations, and he has helped advance services like two-day shipping on more products and discounts on in-store pickup for some orders. Mr. Lore told reporters on Thursday that those efforts are driving the gains in online sales.
Wal-Mart U.S. CEO Greg Foran said the company plans to offer online grocery pickup in 1,100 stores by the end of the year.
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