Walmart Canada handed out $120 million worth of annual cash bonuses to more than 75,000 employees on Friday, thanks to the company’s strong performance through the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in Canada.
The company’s annual incentive program for employees topped $120 million this year, 30 per cent more than in 2020. The payout is based on sales performance and customer service goals on a store-by-store basis. This year, approximately 15,000 more employees will receive the bonus than last year.
“It’s been such an exceptional year,” Nabeela Ixtabalan, Walmart Canada’s executive vice president of people and corporate affairs, said in an interview.
“It’s another way that we’re offering an incentive and support for them, considering everything that’s happened this year.”
Walmart Canada, an essential retailer that has remained open through lockdowns across the country, recently reported stronger-than-expected sales amid surging e-commerce growth. The Canadian division of the world’s largest retailer saw net e-commerce sales grow 229 per cent in the most recent quarter alone, the strongest growth of the company’s international markets.
Walmart Canada was among the grocery retailers that offered bonuses and a temporary $2 pay raise to employees through the COVID-19 pandemic. Executives from Loblaw, Metro and Sobeys had to testify in front of a House of Commons committee after the three grocery retailers scrapped the pay raise on the same day in June. Walmart had ended the temporary pandemic pay raise in May, but Ixtabalan said the company has not ruled out offering additional support to its employees going forward.
“This has been a year that none of us could have predicted or expected, so we’re always looking for ways to support our associates,” she said, pointing to the $125 million the company invested through bonuses and pay raises.
“We’re not ruling anything out, but we’re continuing to look for new ways to reward and recognize associates for the hard work they’re doing. It’s going to be a combination of things.”
The incentive payout comes a few days after the company announced it would shutter six locations across the country while investing $500 million to upgrade other locations across the country. Ixtabalan said the company is working with each location to offer employees positions at other nearby stores, including offering supports for associates that may have to commute.
Sales at Walmart International hit $34.9 billion in the company’s most recent quarter, an increase of 5.5 per cent compared to the same time last year, driven by strong performances in Canada and Mexico. Same-store sales, a key metric in the retail industry, reached 8.6 per cent in the quarter, surpassing analyst expectations.
Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.