Walmart surges heading into holidays

Walmart notched another quarter of strong sales growth and raised its expectations for the holiday shopping season.

Walmart notched another quarter of strong sales growth and raised its expectations for the holiday shopping season.

"We're prepared for a good holiday season," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement Thursday.

Walmart, America's largest retailer, is a bellwether of consumer health and the retail sector. The company's upbeat results are a sign American consumers are confident heading into the holiday stretch.

During Walmart's most recent quarter, sales at Walmart stores in the United States open at least a year increased 3.2% compared with the same period a year ago. Walmart's digital sales during its most recent quarter grew 41%, led by online grocery pickups and deliveries. It was Walmart's best quarter of online sales this year.

The company also raised its guidance for the remainder of the year, reflecting its high expectations for the holidays.

"Walmart will again be one of the primary pacesetters," Moody's analyst Charlie O'Shea said.

In recent years, Walmart has successfully defended its stores against Amazon and rival retailers and pressed its advantage with middle- and lower-income shoppers across the country. Walmart has invested heavily in lowering prices, remodeling stores and expanding online.

Walmart's stock has increased 29% so far this year, outpacing the S&P 500. Walmart shares rose about 3% during pre-market trading Thursday.

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