Walmart Braces Up for Holiday Season, Unveils Hiring Plans

Retailers are bracing up for a different holiday season this year, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Incidentally, COVID-19 has brought about a change in customers’ shopping patterns concerning how and what to shop. While increased social distancing has spiked up online shopping patterns, customers have been buying more essentials and items that resonate well with elevated stay-at-home trends. Taking into account the pandemic-led trends, Walmart Inc. WMT has announced a slew of measures to address customers’ three core shopping patterns, particularly for this holiday season. These include escalated online shopping, the requirement for a fast and safe shopping experience and changing wish lists.

Ramping Up Hiring: Need of the Hour

The retail biggie announced plans to employ more than 20,000 seasonal workers at its countrywide e-commerce fulfillment centers to meet the expected surge in online shopping. Beginning Sep 23, interested candidates can apply for roles like order fillers and power equipment operators. The employment, which will take effect immediately after hiring will continue till January 2021, with scope for conversion into regular employment in several cases. Prior to this, Walmart has appointed more than 500,000 new workers at its stores and supply-chain locations since March, to serve the burgeoning demand for essentials amid the pandemic. Certainly, these hiring efforts are likely to keep the company well staffed during the busy selling period. Other retailers who recently announced hiring plans include Amazon AMZN, Michaels Companies MIK and 1-800-FLOWERS.COM FLWS.

Ensuring Safety

Coming back to Walmart, the supermarket giant remains focused on offering a safe and convenient experience. To this end, the company will continue to take measures like reduced shopping hours, mandatory face coverings, sneeze guards and efficient traffic management at its stores during the holiday season. Further, the company will continue to provide contactless pickup and safe delivery services such as Express Delivery, Free Next Day or Free Two-Day Shipping as well as Pickup and Delivery. Apart from this, contactless in-store payments through Walmart Pay and benefits from the Walmart+ membership program (including unlimited free delivery, Scan & Go options and fuel discounts) are noteworthy.

Evolving Wish Lists

Walmart is set to resonate with customers’ evolving needs for what to shop, as the pandemic has altered consumers’ living patterns. Thus, the company is making moves to stay equipped with holiday gifts suited for the new normal amid the pandemic. These include athleisure, loungewear, bicycles, exercise equipment and outdoor sporting equipment, among others. Further, the company has expanded its assortment of pet product supplies in stores and online. Additionally, Walmart has strengthened its inventory for electronics like TVs, video games and laptops; toys such as puzzles and legos; and its range of kitchen appliances in view of the stay-at-home trends.

These hot selling holiday presents are available at Walmart’s stores and website. Notably, such moves are based on a research, per which one out of three Walmart customers in the past six months planned to begin holiday shopping before November. In fact, many of Walmart’s customers intend to start shopping well ahead of Black Friday and are looking for gifts that resonate with their current lifestyle. Markedly, Walmart is set to offer an all-new Black Friday experience this year, featuring more deals online.

Walmart’s concerted efforts to keep pace with customers’ evolving buying trends are likely to pay off well this holiday season. Markedly, this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock has rallied 16.4% in the past three months compared with the industry’s growth of 15.7%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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