American big-box retailer Walmart, Inc. (WMT) shut around 60 U.S. stores in December for COVID-19-related cleaning, according to Reuters. Shares closed at $144.65 on January 3.
The report stated that Walmart stores in areas including Texas and New Jersey had been closed temporarily for two days to undertake sanitizing against the rapidly spreading Omicron virus.
A Walmart spokesperson said the cleaning was undertaken “to present a safe and clean in-store environment for our associates and customers.” The policy of store cleaning and disinfecting was started two years ago in the wake of the pandemic.
The spokesperson added, “We’ve been closely monitoring our stores across the country, making the decision to temporarily close locations on a store-by-store basis through a collection of market-related data.”
Several retailers and restaurants are facing a labor shortage as workers are calling in sick. Many are forced to shut operations due to the same. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has suggested that retailers must close areas where the infected person was working, and reopen the area only after conducting through sanitization.
A Walmart store in One Laurel, Maryland, was closed last week as several people from the community were infected by the virus, including workers at the store. If such store closures continue in January, then it may create a cause of concern for investors. Walmart operates more than 4,700 stores across the U.S.
The Wall Street community has awarded Walmart with a Strong Buy consensus rating based on 14 Buys and 3 Holds. The average Walmart price target of $172.53 implies 19.3% upside potential to current levels. Shares have lost 1.3% over the past year. The company’s upcoming earnings for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021 is scheduled for February 17, 2022.
TipRanks’ Website Traffic tool, which uses data from SEMrush Holdings (SEMR), the world’s biggest website usage monitoring service, offers insight into WMT’s performance.
In November, Walmart website traffic recorded a 15.82% year-over-year decline in monthly visits. However, year-to-date website traffic growth increased by 8.55% compared to the same period last year.
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