It's earnings-reports season, and two of the country's biggest retailers had a good deal to be thankful for in the third quarter. Walmart and Target both posted better-than-expected comp sales growth and reported that inventories are healthier now than they were earlier in the year.
Both retailers anticipated continued robust e-commerce sales, including of food and beverages for delivery or same-day pickup, in a prolonged holiday shopping season that will see consumers continue to consolidate their trips. Perhaps the biggest head-turning headline of the week came courtesy of Amazon, which announced that it was launching Amazon Pharmacy, an online marketplace that will give Amazon Prime members free, unlimited two-day deliveries on their Amazon Pharmacy orders.
Finally, Dutch supermarket and e-commerce giant Ahold Delhaize said it would acquire FreshDirect, the New York-based grocery delivery service popular with affluent shoppers in several Mid-Atlantic metropolitan areas.
Here are five notable numbers from the week:
- 80%: Savings that Amazon touts consumers can see on the price of generic prescriptions when paying without insurance using Amazon Pharmacy. Consumers also will be able to save up to 40% on branded medications when paying without insurance, according to the company. What's more, consumers will be able to save at tens of thousands of Amazon-partnering pharmacies nationwide, the company said.
- 20.7%: Comp sales growth at Target from third-quarter 2019 to third-quarter 2020. The eye-catching increase, which received high marks from analysts and investors, was fueled by increases in transactions as well as tickets. Expanded availability of fresh and frozen foods for delivery or same-day pickup resonated strongly with customers eager to consolidate purchases as the COVID-19 pandemic has dragged on, executives said. Drive Up sales were up 500% year over year.
- 79%: Percent by which Walmart's U.S. e-commerce sales grew year over year for the third quarter of fiscal 2021. In an earnings call, Walmart executives noted that the company had doubled the number of associates working in pickup in the past year to 140,000 to help meet increased demand. Comp sales for Walmart U.S. stores were up 6.4% year over year.
- 5: States currently served by online grocery delivery service FreshDirect, which Ahold Delhaize announced it will acquire in a deal with the grocer and private equity firm Centerbridge Partners. Ahold will take a majority stake in the company; Centerbridge will hold a 20% share. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the parties expressed enthusiasm for the logistics efficiencies and local-market expertise they expect to see enhanced through the deal.
- 48%: Share of U.S. consumers who said they will choose their holiday retailers based on price and promotions this year, according to recent McKinsey research. In an environment of continued economic uncertainty—and with initial jobless claims rising this week for the first time in five weeks—price concerns still are on the minds of consumers, even as strong grocery demand has prompted some retailers to keep promotional pricing in check. Who ranks where on pricing in popular product categories? Profitero is out with a new study that has details.
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