Walmart Beat Inflation. Now It Must Offer More Than Deals

Aside from the big box bloodbath of 2022, when an abrupt halt in buying left Walmart Inc. sitting on too many sweatpants and patio sets, the world’s biggest retailer has been one of the beneficiaries from inflation.

As prices for many essentials skyrocketed, not only did Walmart’s core low-income customers seek out its competitive prices, but it also attracted a fresh wave of shoppers: middle and higher-earning families who weren’t immune from soaring costs. Walmart’s share of households with incomes of $100,000 or over increased by 2.26 percentage points between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2024, retail research company GlobalData estimates. Given Walmart’s scale, that’s a big uplift in terms of both customers and sales.

save money

The question now is whether Walmart will hold on to those wealthier shoppers — and ideally to attract even more of them. So far the signs are promising. The company said on Thursday that US same-store sales rose by a better-than-expected 3.8% in its first quarter, helped by gaining more upper-income households. It also upgraded its forecast of full-year sales and earnings per share.