business news in context, analysis with attitude

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Walmart executives weighed in on a range of topics at the company’s annual shareholder meeting Wednesday, from the global coronavirus pandemic and the retailer’s role in healing America’s racial wounds to out-of-stock products and the intense demand for puzzles.

"The company’s 50th shareholder meeting was held over a conference-call line, one of several signs of unusual times. The annual gathering typically draws tens of thousands of Walmart workers to its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters for a festive affair with musical performances and pep-rally-style presentations from executives."

"'Obviously we are meeting under extraordinary circumstances,' said Walmart Chairman Greg Penner to kick off the hourlong call. 'There is the pandemic which we have been responding and adapting to for the past months, but also we are meeting under the shadow being cast by the violence of racism which is tearing at our country'."

“The killing of George Floyd is tragic, painful and unacceptable,” said CEO Doug Mr. McMillon. “It’s important that we all understand that our problems as a nation run much deeper than one horrible event.”

Other excerpts from the story:

- "Mr. McMillon said that the coronavirus pandemic has put strain on Walmart’s workforce and supply chain. More than 270,000 of Walmart’s 1.5 million U.S. employees have taken coronavirus-related leave in recent months, he said. The country’s largest private employer has hired over 300,000 workers to keep up, many of them on a temporary basis, he said."

- "Walmart is ramping up its health-care services to meet the needs of the pandemic, said executives. Walmart currently has 187 drive-through Covid-19 testing sites in 31 states, said Mr. McMillon, and is exploring ways to test its workforce, including antibody testing."

- "The rapid consumer shift to online buying in recent months as more Americans stayed home will likely linger longer-term, said executives. Amid the pandemic Walmart is adding more, sometimes faster, online delivery windows for shoppers, said Mr. McMillon."

•  Business Insider reports that "Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said Wednesday that he doesn't expect any significant design changes to the company's new corporate headquarters, despite pandemic concerns that have many companies reassessing office space.

"'I don't anticipate significant changes,' McMillon said in response to a question about the new 300-acre campus, which is still under construction.

"McMillon made the remarks during the company's shareholders meeting, which was broadcast online.

"'We've got flexibility and time should we learn things that change our minds,' he said."

One thing that the company has learned, McMillon said, is that it is "hard to onboard a new associate in this environment.  How do you get to know people? How do you get a sense of what culture is like? And culture inside a company is such an important aspect that I think being present with each other is going to matter over time. And that will influence the way we think about our new home office campus."

•  Business Insider also reports that "Walmart has removed firearms and ammunition from the sales floor of some stores amid widespread protests against the death of George Floyd.

"Customers can still purchase these items, even though they are no longer publicly displayed."