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Walmart sales up 3.4% in Canada

Big-box retailer sees gains north of the border, while U.S. e-commerce business cools

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Canada was a bright spot for Walmart in the company’s fourth quarter earnings report released Tuesday morning.

Net sales in Canada grew 3.4% in the three month period that ended Jan. 31. and same-store sales increased 2.9% compared to the year before.

Meanwhile, same-store traffic at Walmart’s Canadian stores rose 1.4% during the quarter and tickets were up 1.5%.

And, according to Nielsen, the retailer gained 60 basis points of market share in food, consumables, and health and wellness for the 12-week period that ended January 27.

In the U.S., the retailer reported a lower-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and wrestled with slower e-commerce sales as it battles Amazon on multiple fronts including grocery. Walmart earned US $2.17 billion or 73 cents per share in the fourth quarter compared to US $3.76 billion, or $1.22 per share, in the year-earlier period. Wall Street analysts were calling for earnings of $1.36 per share.

Though comparable sales rose for the 14th consecutive quarter, Walmart’s online sales in the U.S. slowed to 23% in the quarter, compared to 29% in the same period a year ago. (Walmart doesn’t break down its e-commerce sales figures for its international operations.)

To compete in the online space, Walmart’s U.S. operation  has aggressively cut prices and is planning to double the number of stores where groceries can be ordered online and picked up curbside at a store, to 2,000 locations this year.

Walmart has also teamed up with Google to pursue technology that would allow customers to shop using voice commands at home as it tries to chip away the dominance of Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo devices.

“We’re accelerating innovation in the business to make shopping faster and easier for our customers,” said Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart in a pre-recorded transcript. “Creativity, decisiveness and speed are priorities. We made good progress this past year to save busy families time and money and we will do more.”

READ: Walmart’s tech incubator buys a VR startup

But Walmart still has a ways to go. Amazon has leveraged its $99-a-year Prime membership program into intense loyalty from customers, and it’s recently stepped into Walmart’s turf, no longer content with only online sales. After spending nearly $14 billion to acquire Whole Foods last summer, Amazon just announced two-hour delivery from the grocery chain for its members.

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