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The Single Biggest Change You Can Expect to See at Walmart

The retail giant's business model has changed dramatically as a result of the pandemic, which may affect your shopping.
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The pandemic has encouraged a lot of people to rethink the way they get groceries, the most popular of which seems to be to opt for delivery and curbside pickup instead of in-store visits. At least, that's the case for Walmart.

The popular department and grocery store may no longer be bustling on the weekends, at least in-store. As restrictions begin to lift in cities across the U.S., shoppers will still be encouraged to practice social distancing. Since Walmart has remained open during the entirety of the pandemic, the company's stores have witnessed first-hand just how shopping habits have changed in response to the public health crisis.

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Now, shoppers are switching to eCommerce shopping, whether that be through grocery pickup and delivery or on walmart.com and marketplace. In fact, eCommerce sales increased by 74 percent in quarter one, according to the retail chains earnings report. Lei Duran, who follows Walmart for the research firm Marketplace, says that alf of all online grocery shoppers are using Walmart specifically for grocery orders.

With such great success in this area, coupled with the uncertainty of when the pandemic will truly be over, Walmart will likely continue to rely on this model even as the shelter-in-place orders gradually begin to lift across the country. Ultimately, the pandemic has shifted the way the company makes money.

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"You're going to see just absolute blowout sales in food, consumables. You will see obvious softness in the discretionary categories," lead retail analyst at Moody's Charlie O'Shea told Marketplace.

In other words, items like clothing, TVs, and toys, for example, won't see a spike in sales. But things like hand sanitizer, meat, disinfectant wipes, and of course, toilet paper, have continuously been cleared out in some stores and even online.

Walmart's CEO Doug McMillon told CNBC, "For many of these items we were selling in two or three hours what we normally sell in two or three days," he said.

So, next time you need something from Walmart, check the delivery and pickup section of the site first to see if you can avoid having to physically go into the store. However, if you decide to shop normally, consider reading 15 Worst Mistakes I've Seen Walmart Shoppers Make to avoid putting yourself and others at risk of exposure.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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