Walmart considers diversifying into advertising and healthcare

Walmart Inc’s investors and analysts are likely to look past the retail giant’s slowest same-store sales growth since the start of the coronavirus crisis, when it reports quarterly results on Thursday and instead focus on the company’s ambitions to diversify beyond retail.

Walmart’s online sales nearly doubled and comparable sales growth touched high single digits each quarter in 2020 as Americans bought groceries and other essentials during the coronavirus pandemic.

During that time, the retailer also heavily invested in advertising and health services.

Walmart is starting to merge other parts of its business with its main retail and e-commerce business, he added.

The company started to change its media strategy in 2019 by cutting ties with its external advertising partner and taking the business in-house as Walmart Media Group and now renamed Walmart Connect, with annual advertising revenue expected to be nearly $1 billion in 2020.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart has also bolstered its presence in healthcare with its own insurance business and an expansion of its healthcare centers in the United States that provide low-priced medical services such as dental care and counseling for customers.

Walmart will report fourth-quarter results on Thursday, with analysts expecting same-store sales of 5.80%, according to Refinitiv estimates, the slowest for the year.