Walmart shut down dozens of stores across parts of Texas and Louisiana as Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4 storm.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer’s Emergency Operations Center, which monitors hurricanes, storms and other natural disasters in real time, provided a store status tracking service that showed nearly 70 units were temporarily closed as of Thursday morning. Many of those locations — counting Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam’s Club banners — were concentrated in southeast Texas and the southern to northern stretch of west Louisiana.
“The safety of our associates and customers is our top priority,” the company wrote on its website. “We assess the status of our facilities and will continue to operate as long as it is safe to do so. We pay close attention and follow local and/or state evacuation mandates.”
A number of users on social media reported that customers were stocking up on essentials, including water, amid fears of damaging winds and widespread flash flooding in the region. The hurricane hit the Gulf Coast with winds of 150 miles per hour but has since been downgraded to a Category 2 storm with winds of 110 miles per hour.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the areas from Sabine Pass, Texas, to Port Fourchon, La., are under a storm surge warning, which means conditions could result in elevated water levels for the next few hours. On the other hand, the agency has issued a tropical storm warning for High Island, Texas, and the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana.
With its network of hypermarkets, big-box chains and grocery stores, Walmart has become one of the country’s top destinations for everyday goods, household supplies and more basic necessities. As the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the United States, it saw a surge in consumer demand for general merchandise and food — particularly as other retailers shuttered due to government-mandated lockdowns on nonessential businesses.
For the second quarter, the company reported profits of $6.48 billion, or $2.27 per share, from last year’s $3.61 billion, or $1.26 per share. On an adjusted basis, earnings per share amounted to $1.56, handily topping analysts’ expectations of earnings of $1.25 per share. Revenues also advanced 5.6% to $137.7 billion, versus Wall Street’s bets of $135.37 billion.