Walmart just announced record US sales, and it sees more stimulus checks bringing another 'boost'

  • Walmart CFO Brett Biggs talked to CNBC after the company’s fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday.
  • Briggs said another stimulus check could give the company a boost.
  • The CFO’s remarks underscore the importance of more stimulus checks for the national economy.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Walmart CFO Brett Biggs told CNBC that another stimulus check could give the company a “boost.”

Biggs was speaking after the company reported its fourth-quarter earnings, which fell short of Wall Street expectations despite record sales in the US; the stock fell as much as 6.2% on Thursday. Notably, earnings for e-commerce only increased by 69%; as Insider’s Ben Winck reported — the smallest increase since the pandemic’s onset.

Against the backdrop of a debate among Republicans, Democrats, and economists over the size of the next stimulus package, Biggs’ remarks underscore the importance of such spending for the nation’s largest retailer.

“When money hits we see spending pick up pretty quickly and I would anticipate if we get another round of stimulus, which is obviously being debated, that we would see something similar,” Biggs told CNBC.

Walmart did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Consumer spending in the US jumped overall in late December as Americans received their stimulus checks. A Bank of America note looking at aggregated card data found that spending by stimulus-check recipients jumped by 12.7% year-over-year for the week ending January 16 — a big jump compared to just 2.8% higher spending from those who didn’t receive stimulus checks. 

Those who received checks and earn under $50,000 also spent more, with an increase of 22% year-over-year. Spending by those who were eligible for expanded UI benefits also increased.

Restaurants also saw a boost after the most recent stimulus checks were distributed, repeating a similar pattern from April 2020. However, the effects of that boost were likely not to last too long. Retail spending also climbed in January as Americans received stimulus checks and COVID-19 cases fell.

The current $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan contains $1,400 stimulus checks — more than double the $600 checks distributed in late December and early January. A survey from Morning Consult found that over a third of Americans plan on putting those checks into their savings.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told CNBC that he stressed the need for more stimulus checks at a White House meeting last week. He said that customers spent their stimulus checks differently, with the second ones going more towards necessities.

“We can see in our customer behavior that some customers — as they received this most recent stimulus — are spending it more on basics, more on private brands, smaller pack sizes, things like that,” McMillon told CNBC, “as opposed to some of the stimulus dollars that came out earlier last year that were spent more like tax rebate checks, where people were buying televisions and things to entertain themselves at home.”

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