Walmart still worried about inflation as it begins automation push
Walmart said on Wednesday that inflation will continue to weigh on its business this year, and that it will slow its hiring pace as it pursues manufacturing automation technology amid a tight labor market.
“We believe, over time, the number of associates will grow, but at a slower pace than in the past as we complement people growth with technology and automation,” said Chief Financial Officer John David Rainey, the company’s investor in Tampa, Fla. said in the meeting. .
Rainey’s comments came after the retailer said Tuesday it expects about 65% of its stores to be serviced by automation within three years. The company does not expect any near-term layoffs other than those already announced.
Reuters reported last month that the company was laying off hundreds of workers at at least five facilities that fulfill orders placed on Walmart.com.
The company, which has more than 5,000 U.S. stores, also released its April quarter and full-year sales and profit forecasts.
Asked at an investor meeting about Walmart’s assumption of the rate of inflation in its guidance, Rennie said he expects this year to be “somewhat unusual” as the company still feels the impact of higher prices.
However, he expects inflation to ease to 3% by the end of the year.
“While some investors may be expecting an increase (in the forecast), we see the upside as favorable, and possibly still a month to go (in the quarter),” said DA Davidson analyst Michael Baker. leaving space,” said DA Davidson analyst Michael Baker. .
More than 56% of Walmart’s sales come from grocery, where inflation has been the worst.
The Labor Department for February shows that food prices in the US were 9.5% higher than the same period a year ago.
Executives said Americans continue to reach for private-label brands over national brands — a shift that has helped Walmart’s private-label business account for more than 20% of total sales of more than $600 billion.
Walmart shares were up 1.5%.