Walmart to give workers a new round of bonuses, close on Thanksgiving

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Customers wearing face masks shop at a Walmart supermarket amid novel coronavirus outbreak on July 15, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Sha Hanting | China News Service via Getty Images

Walmart said Tuesday that it will give another round of bonuses to hourly employees and close its stores on Thanksgiving Day.

The big-box retailer said in a news release that it will spend about $428 million on the bonuses to thank employees for working during the coronavirus pandemic. Full-time hourly employees will receive $300 and part-time and temporary workers will get $150. The company will pay the bonuses on Aug. 20.

Walmart is the largest grocer and the private sector employer in the country. So far, it’s hired more than 400,000 employees during the pandemic to help the company stock shelves, clean stores and keep up with online orders, according to a company spokesperson.

As Americans stay at home, they’ve turned to the big-box retailer for groceries, toilet paper and a wide range of items, from bikes to hair color. The retailer’s sales have shot up. Same-store sales jumped by 10% and e-commerce sales in the U.S. rose by 74% in the first quarter, ended April 30.

Customers have been spending more when they shop, too. The company’s average ticket increased by 16% during the first quarter, Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs said. 

Walmart shares were recently trading up about 1%. The stock, which has a market value of nearly $377 billion, is up 12% year to date. Last week, it hit a 52-week high of $134.13.

During the pandemic, employees have had to work to keep up with that strong demand and have put their health at risk. Some Walmart employees have gotten sick and died from Covid-19. A family of a longtime employee in Illinois filed a wrongful death lawsuit in April.

Walmart has adopted a growing number of safety measures over the course of the pandemic, including providing masks and taking employees’ temperatures. This week, it began requiring all customers to wear masks or face coverings.

The retailer has given two other special bonuses to employees. All of the bonuses have totaled $1.1 billion.

Walmart earned $14.88 billion on sales of $524 billion last year.

In the announcement on Tuesday, Walmart said its stores — and its warehouse clubs Sam’s Club — will be closed on Thanksgiving Day to show appreciation for workers, too.

“We know this has been a trying year, and our associates have stepped up. We hope they will enjoy a special Thanksgiving Day at home with their loved ones,” said John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. said in a news release. “We are certainly thankful to our people for all of their efforts.”

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