Walmart Announces New Round of Worker Bonuses as Covid-19 Spikes

Walmart Inc. announced a new cash bonus to its U.S. employees as Covid-19 cases shoot to a record high.

The world’s largest retailer gave out a total of $319 million in quarterly bonuses in late November and will disburse about $388 million more on Dec. 24 “in recognition of associates’ sustained commitment to customers during the pandemic.”

About 1.5 million full- and part-time workers will get bonus pay, Walmart said on its website. The company, which also owns Sam’s Club, estimates 2020 bonuses will total more than $2.8 billion after the December payment.

Retailers, especially those of essential goods like groceries, have broadly boosted pay and added workers this year as consumers load their pantries amid social distancing. Target has raised its minimum hourly wage to $15, for example. But the stream of hazard-pay announcements has slowed down in the second half of the year as pandemic living becomes normalized.

The shares fell less than 1% in New York trading. Walmart climbed 27% this year through Wednesday, roughly double the S&P 500 gain.

Consumer stockpiling has boosted Walmart, which was deemed an essential retailer and allowed to remain open even during broad economic lockdowns. Same-store sales climbed 6.4% last quarter and 9.3% in the second quarter.

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