Walmart Braces for Early Holiday Shopping Wave

Walmart Braces for Early Holiday Shopping Wave Walmart Braces for Early Holiday Shopping Wave (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By Jeremy Frankel | Tuesday, 16 November 2021 08:10 PM

Retailers expect that the possibility of shipping delays or items being out of stock will likely cause people to start holiday shopping early.

However, Walmart has not seen this seasonal shopping wave yet. The company’s Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs told CNBC that while there has been some holiday shopping so far, there hasn’t been enough to bring significant demand into the third quarter.

Walmart will spread its Black Friday sales across November, as opposed to starting holiday deals in October, as competitors Target and Amazon did. CNBC notes that Walmart is possibly delaying holiday promotions for strategic reasons, since grocery sales rose almost 10% year over year in the three-month period, and food sales grew $3.6B in the third quarter, the strongest quarterly growth in six quarters.

CEO Doug McMillon told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” with Jim Cramer that Walmart is trying to strike a balance by absorbing some costs to make sure it undercuts prices of competitors and keep its reputation for value, while passing some higher costs onto consumers.

Michael Baker, a retail analyst for D.A. Davidson, believes Walmart may be balancing its high grocery prices by delaying its largest holiday promotions on TVs and other items until later, saying that it could be part of the strategy to not have that level of promotion that early.

Biggs said that Walmart will be ready for when more holiday shoppers come to its stores and website since it ordered merchandise early and directed chartered ships dedicated to Walmart goods to less congested ports.

Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner noted that Walmart has an advantage over its competitors, since approximately two-thirds of its merchandise is sourced in the U.S., thereby largely avoiding congested ports.