Walmart (WMT) is back on the top of its game in the U.S., at least judging by two important retail metrics.
"The last 12 quarters of positive same-store sales and 10 quarters of positive traffic are evidence that the U.S. bricks and mortar [business] has made significant progress in recapturing the lost [market] share," wrote Barclays analyst Karen Short on Monday. "While there is always room for improvement in any retail format, it is very clear the turnaround has taken hold, and more importantly Walmart is now taking a leadership role with respect to leveraging both e-commerce and bricks and mortar."
Short has a $90.00 price target on Walmart, estimating at least another 12% move in the stock.
It's hard to argue with Short's call on the world's larges retailer.
Walmart's same-store sales at its U.S. stores rose 1.4% in the first quarter, spurred by a 1.5% increase in customer traffic. Getting people to visit physical stores is challenging for retailers right now as they are buying more of their stuff online. But, Walmart's year plus effort to slash prices in food -- which obviously needs to get bought weekly -- has it in a rare position of seeing people head to stores for food and other merchandise.
Sales of food at U.S. stores increased by a low-single digit percentage in the first quarter, Walmart said, also helped by initiatives to keep items in-stock.
Conceding that it continues to have a "perception" problem, where consumers don't see it as the lowest priced in food and other household essentials, Target notched another challenging quarter of sales. Target's first quarter same-store sales fell 1.3% as both traffic and the average amount spent by shoppers each fell. Sales of groceries declined as Target only began late in the quarter to market its new lower priced food and other weekly needs.
Meanwhile under the leadership of Marc Lore, who came with Walmart's August 2016 acquisition of his e-commerce company Jet.com, Walmart saw its online sales spike 63% in the first quarter.
On Thursday, Walmart announced that it started testing a new delivery method that uses employees to deliver online purchases to customers' homes. The move expands on the retailer's Pickup Discount, announced in April, which offers customers the option to get a discount on certain items they buy online if they pick it up at a local store. Customers can still take advantage of Walmart's free two-day shipping, of course.
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