Walmart CEO Doug McMillon had several announcements to deliver during the company’s earnings call on Tuesday that were unrelated to the company’s quarterly results. Among them was Macmillan’s view that it was “imperative” that selected employees work together to receive more incentive funding.
He also congratulated Joe Biden on his victory, adding his name to a growing list of corporate leaders who recognized the outcome of the November 3 presidential election, even when President Donald Trump refused to acknowledge it. Other Fortune 500 executives, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, congratulated Mr. Biden, although few publicly addressed Mr. Trump̵
“I want to end by congratulating President-elect Biden,” Macmillan said at the end of his remarks about a conversation with Wall Street analysts on Tuesday. “We look forward to working with the administration and both houses of Congress to move the country forward.”
Macmillan also focused on boosting funding, noting that small businesses are under more pressure as East-West countries impose more restrictions due to the growing incidence of coronavirus. There are already indications that consumers may cut costs as rising COVID-19 cases reduce their confidence in the economic jump, combined with a lack of new stimulus costs from Washington, DC
Walmart, as the largest private employer in the United States, with 1.2 million employees here, relies on consumers who continue to open their wallets. A blow to small businesses – which has fewer resources than corporate giants like Walmart to withstand a downturn – could affect many Walmart customers, given that small businesses employ nearly half of the country’s workforce and often serve as suppliers and suppliers to larger businesses such as Walmart.
“The increase in cases will put more pressure on small businesses, which have been hit hard by the pandemic,” Macmillan said. “As different governments in the country tighten to help keep people healthy, it is imperative that elected officials in Washington work together to provide the assistance that many businesses need to move through the next phase of the pandemic.”
U.S. retail sales nearly stopped in October, according to James Watson, a senior U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, citing data from the U.S. Department of Commerce released Tuesday.
“Consumers closed their wallets when the first chill of autumn occurred, with retail sales barely increasing in October,” Watson said in a research note. “This reading is one of the first signs that spending will struggle in the face of continued income support and a huge jump in viral cases in the United States.”
Economists are crediting stimulus packages passed earlier this year, such as the Coronavirus Aid, Aid and Economic Security Act (or Care Act), to help households struggling with job losses and income cuts. The CARES Act also provides business financing through the Wage Protection Program. But much of the funding from the CARE Act has been spent or will expire next month.