The S&P 500 on Tuesday surpassed record highs, last seen before the onset of the coronavirus crisis in February, riding on gains in booming shares of Amazon, as a number of major retailers reported soaring sales despite the pandemic.
Doubts about the underlying health of the economy, however, were writ large in the reaction to bumper results from Home Depot and Walmart, whose shares fell on warnings that retail may have peaked as stimulus cash runs dry.
Walmart’s online sales nearly doubled in the fiscal second quarter, helped by an expansion of its online delivery services.
Sales at U.S. locations, opened at least a year, jumped 9.3 percent, the company reported Tuesday. With customers not going out to eat as much, they’re cooking at home, spurring sales of groceries. They’re also buying items to set up their home office or improve their outdoor area, store executives said.
Home Depot, the nation’s largest home improvement chain, reported on Tuesday a 23.4 percent increase in sales at stores opened at least a year globally, helped by a frenzied pace of do-it-yourself projects. That’s almost twice the 12.2 percent increase that industry analysts had projected.
However, department store chain Kohl´s reported an adjusted loss that was smaller than expected and revenue fell 23 percent during the fiscal second quarter. The results came as Kohl´s worked to reopen its 1,100 stores after temporarily closing them all during the start of the pandemic.
‘Some parts of retailing are thriving; some parts are being devastated,’ said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. ‘It’s demonstrating a dramatic shift of how and where shoppers are spending their money. People’s lives are revolving around the home. That means food, home improvement and comfortable clothes.’
Consumers had already begun to rely on Walmart, Home Depot and other essential retailers like Target and Amazon as lifelines for necessities during the start of the pandemic.
Walmart’s online sales, for example, rose 74 percent for the fiscal first quarter. That trend accelerated to 97 percent in the second quarter and broadened the gap between traditional retailers, many of them anchor sto….