May 18, 2021
By Richa Naidu and Aishwarya Venugopal
CHICAGO (Reuters) – More Americans are starting to shop in stores again for everything from sports equipment to jewelry, Walmart Inc, Macy’s Inc M.N> and Home Depot Inc said on Tuesday, as Covid-19 restrictions ease and the U.S. economy opens up.
All three retailers topped Wall Street’s quarterly sales estimates, propped up by the increased foot traffic and government stimulus checks that fattened shoppers pocketbooks. Visits to Walmart and Home Depot stores in April grew by 21.7% and 23.6% respectively, according to Placer.ai, a data firm that tracks foot traffic.
Brick-and-mortar stores, which had already been falling out of fashion, have struggled with sales in the past year with the pandemic keeping people from leaving their homes.
The increased level of vaccinations boosted store traffic, an encouraging sign as consumers move toward a post-pandemic lifestyle and start to spend more for in-person activities, travel and events, Macy’s Chief Executive Officer Jeff Ganette said on a call to discuss earnings.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon called out similar trends, saying customers want to get out and shop. The company on Friday became the first major retailer to walk back its mandatory mask rule for shoppers, a move that is likely to encourage more store visits.
After U.S. homebuilding jumped to a nearly 15-year high in March, Home Depot benefited from builders and contractors rushing to stores to get through a backlog of projects put on hold during the pandemic.
“It feels like stimulus is playing a larger role in driving sales, but economic reopening is also an important underlying component,” retail metrics analyst Ken Perkins said. “We expect continued reopening with consumers going back to work and increasing travel to be the primary driver of solid retail sales as we move through 2021 with improvements in brick and mortar traffic.”
(Reporting by Richa Naidu and Aishwarya Venugopal. Additional reporting by Uday Sampath Kumars; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)