(Bloomberg)—Walmart Inc., busy making deals abroad, struggled to gain back some momentum in its home market last quarter.
Online revenue in the U.S. rose 33% in the fiscal first quarter ended April 30, better than the holiday quarter’s lackluster performance but below the 40% pace the company had forecast for the full year.
Comparable sales at U.S. Walmart stores grew 2.1% in the first quarter, the retailer said Thursday, falling short of analysts’ estimates. Customer visits rose just 0.8%, the slowest growth in more than a year, as unseasonably cold and wet April weather kept American shoppers from visiting the stores.
CEO Doug McMillon is overhauling the retailer’s global footprint, stepping back from the U.K. after two decades and spending $16 billion to acquire a controlling stake in India’s biggest e-commerce site. Still, Walmart generates most of its profits and sales in the U.S., and its heavy spending to lower prices and expand its online business have investors concerned about the price it’s paying to keep up with Amazon.com Inc.
The company’s recent moves include combining its British chain Asda, No. 11 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Europe 500, with J Sainsbury Plc, No. 4, uniting the U.K.’s second and third-biggest supermarket chains in a transaction worth about $10 billion. Less than two weeks later it inked its biggest-ever deal to gain a majority stake in India’s Flipkart Group, striking a blow against Amazon, which has spent billions to gain customers in the world’s second most-populous nation.
The Flipkart deal should help position Walmart in a fast-growing market, but for now it risks crimping earnings that are already under pressure from rising food and transportation costs in the U.S. Gas prices are also on the rise, which could prompt Walmart’s lower-income shoppers to spend less on each trip or even come into the stores less often.
Walmart is No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000. Amazon is No. 1.