Guess Who’s Winning Big in the Pandemic? Home and Online Retail Giants | Economy

While restaurants, bars, hotels and airlines suffer during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is one part of the economy that is winning big: home-focused retailers that have built a strong online customer base.

One day after Walmart blew out the expectations of stock analysts by posting a 97% increase in its e-commerce business, a bevy of household-name retailers announced impressive sales gains Wednesday for their second quarters. Target registered its best quarter ever with a 24.3% increase in sales at stores open at least a year. The retailer’s curbside pickup sales soared 700% in the period ending Aug. 1. Target said sales were strong in most categories, led by electronics and home office gear, but also beauty, food and beverages.

Home improvement chain Lowe’s likewise blew out the quarter, with overall sales up 30% and online sales up 135%. “Sales were driven by a consumer focus on the home, core repair and maintenance activities, and wallet share shift away from other discretionary spending,” CEO Marvin Ellison said in a statement.

Home Depot reported Tuesday, with a 23% gain in sales for the quarter. “They’re not spending on travel and entertainment and restaurants, they’re spending it on maintaining and enhancing their home,” Chief Financial Officer Richard McPhail told CNBC. The company said sales to individuals doing DIY projects outpaced those to professionals.

Both companies noted they were spending millions on coronavirus-related expenses, including additional payroll costs and preventative measures to ensure safety of customers and employees.

Despite the strong performances, the retailers shied away from forecasts for the upcoming months, noting the uncertainty over the direction of the coronavirus, stalled negotiations in Congress over another stimulus package and overall weakness in the economy.

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