Walmart

Walmart Inc. (WMT - Get Report)  is looking to hire hundreds of truckers this year, the retail giant said, and give raises to its current fleet of 8,000 drivers.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said in a statement that it had hired 1,400 new drivers in 2018, and "hundreds more are slated to join in 2019."

Starting next month, truck drivers will get a per-mile hike of 1 cent and an extra $1 each time they drop a trailer at a destination, Walmart said, bringing average pay for drivers to $87,500 a year. The company has also put new processes in place to assess, mentor and hire for critical positions, with a redesigned orientation cutting the time to complete a hire in half.

The revamped orientation initiatives have cut in half the time between a candidate's initial interview and a mandatory driving assessment, reducing the time it takes to complete a new hire, the company said.

Walmart said same-store comp sales hit 3% last year, leading to increased demands on its transportation network.

As of May 2017, the median annual pay for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was $42,480, Walmart said, citing U.S. Department of Labor statistics. Driver pay has since climbed, and by March 2018 came to more than $53,000 for a driver on a national, irregular route, according to the American Trucking Association. The  industry group projects the U.S. will be short 175,000 drivers by 2026.

Walmart said that it has had its own trucking fleet since the 1970s, with drivers making deliveries to 4,700 Walmart and Sam's Club stores around the U.S.

Shares of Walmart fell 0.4% to $98.36 in Thursday trading.