Retailer results so far show are going out, spending

Shoppers, newly vaccinated, are emerging from their homes and going out again

At Walmart, sales of teeth whitener are popping as customers take their masks off. So are travel items. Macy’s says that special occasion dressing like prom dresses are on the upswing as well as luggage, men’s tailored clothing, and dressy sandals.

Shoppers, newly vaccinated, are emerging from their homes and going out again, and that, along with government stimulus payments, is helping to boost fiscal first-quarter results for major retailers Walmart and Macy’s. They were among the first to release figures that covered the spring period. Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, boosted its annual earnings-per-share outlook, while Macy’s surprisingly swung back into the profit column and it boosted its guidance for all of 2021.

“Our optimism is higher than it was at the beginning of the year,” said Walmart CEO Doug McMillon. “In the U.S., customers clearly want to get out and shop.”

Jeff Gennette, CEO of Macy’s, told analysts on the earnings call Tuesday that shoppers feel more emboldened to shop.

“Clearly our customer is ready to get on with life,” Gennette said. “We don’t see this as a short-term pop.”

Home Depot, the nation’s largest home improvement chain, also delivered stellar results on Tuesday, showing that an overcharged housing market continues to keep aisles full. The Atlanta-based company reported sales that blew past Wall Street expectations.

The overall strong results are a good omen for other major retailers who are slated to report their results in the next few days. During the height of the pandemic-induced lockdowns, Walmart and Home Depot were allowed to stay open, while non-essential retailers like Macy’s were forced to temporarily close, dealing a devastating blow to business. That helped increase the dominance of big box chains.


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