In the early days of the pandemic, when grocery stores in the United States ran low on staples like toilet paper, people flocked to Walmart and Target to stock up. Five months later, as the number of coronavirus cases remains high, shoppers continue to buy from the big-box retailers in record amounts.
On Wednesday, Target reported the greatest percentage increase in quarterly sales in the company’s history. Walmart, which reported earnings on Tuesday, doubled its e-commerce sales. Home Depot’s sales increased more than 23 percent in this year’s second quarter. Wayfair reported earlier that its revenue was up roughly 80 percent year over year.
The success of those retailers can be attributed, in part, to their one-stop shopping advantage — both in person and online. It allows budget-conscious shoppers to pick up groceries, clothing, electronics, and home goods at the same time.
“In a pandemic, you don’t want to make multiple stops, you want to go to one place that is safe and convenient,” said Andy Mantis, head of data insights for the research firm 1010Data.
The pandemic has been devastating for the broader retail industry, with name-brand companies like Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, J.C. Penney and the owner of Men’s Wearhouse among those that have filed for bankruptcy in recent months. But monthly retail sales — after plummeting in March and April — have returned to the level they were at in February, fed in large part by behemoths like Amazon, Walmart and Target.
Walmart had strong demand for groceries, as well as for home and sporting goods. With people still largely stuck at home, Target’s electronics sales surged. Home Depot and Lowe’s drew crowds of people eager to finally tackle home improvement projects, with sales of hard surface flooring and interior lighting doing especially well.
“These big-box retailers are just perfectly positioned,” said Andrew Lipsman, an analyst at the data analytics firm eMarketer. “They have basically every tailwind at their back.”