Walmart ups outlook as back-to-school sales take off

This June 24, 2021 photo shows a Walmart store in Oklahoma City.  Walmart is raising its annual outlook for a key sales metric after reporting fiscal second-quarter results that beat analysts projections. The results, announced Tuesday, Aug. 17, underscore how Bentonville, Arkansas-based continues to retain its customers and keep sales humming as shoppers start to go back to almost normalcy.  (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
This June 24, 2021 photo shows a Walmart store in Oklahoma City. Walmart is raising its annual outlook for a key sales metric after reporting fiscal second-quarter results that beat analysts projections. The results, announced Tuesday, Aug. 17, underscore how Bentonville, Arkansas-based continues to retain its customers and keep sales humming as shoppers start to go back to almost normalcy. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

NEW YORK – Walmart is raising its sales outlook for the year as Americans, for the first time in a while, began shopping for back-to-school clothes in the second quarter, as well as things to wear when they travel.

Still, concerns are mounting over spending in the months ahead as the delta variant of COVID-19 surges across the U.S. and mask mandates are reinstated.

Walmart reported on Tuesday earnings of $4.27 billion, or $1.52 per share, during the three-month period ended July 31. That is a nickel better per share than Wall Street had expected, according to a survey by FactSet.

Net profit last year was $6.47 billion, or $1.77 adjusted per share.

Sales in the most recent quarter rose 2.2% to $139.87 billion, also better than the $137.02 billion industry analysts expected.

Sales at stores opened at least a year rose 5.2%, a bit of a slowdown from the 6% increase in the first quarter. Online sales growth dramatically slowed to 6% compared to the year ago's 97% gain when the pandemic-induced lockdowns resulted in frenzied online spending. That followed a 37% increase in the first quarter and 69% increase in the fourth quarter.

Walmart is facing rising costs for everything from labor to shipping as supply chain back-ups hit companies worldwide.

Walmart now says that it expects sales at stores opened at least a year to be up 5% to 6% for the year; it had previously said the metric would be up in the low single digits.