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After years of investment in its technology and stores, Walmart has indisputably emerged as a strong No. 2 to Amazon in U.S. e-commerce, with sales up 37% last year. But as the novel coronavirus pandemic showed, Walmart’s 4,600 U.S. stores have proved to be an effective weapon in its largest market by allowing curbside pickup for online orders at a time when shoppers want to limit time in stores—but who still want their orders quickly. (That sentiment is not likely to change anytime soon: In the first quarter of fiscal year 2021, the company reported "unprecedented demand" for goods that drove up U.S. comp sales by 10% and U.S. e-commerce sales by 74%.) The company's Sam’s Club division is finding renewed energy, too. Walmart is benefiting from focusing on select overseas markets, such as India and China, rather than competing everywhere.
Alejandro Cegarra—Bloomberg/Getty Images
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