Walmart to pay nearly $550 million in employee bonuses: ‘It’s almost like a mini stimulus package’

A customer pays for her groceries after shopping at a Walmart store ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in Chicago.

Kamil Krzaczynski | Reuters

Walmart said Thursday it will pay more than $365 million in special cash bonuses to its hourly employees for their work as customers flock to its stores to stock up on items during the coronavirus pandemic.

The nation’s largest grocer is also accelerating payout of its next scheduled quarterly bonuses for store, club and supply chain employees. It will pay that planned $180 million of bonuses in April, a month ahead of schedule.

Together, it will pay a total of nearly $550 million in bonuses.

In an interview on “Squawk Box” Friday morning, Walmart’s executive vice president of corporate affairs Dan Bartlett said the bonuses will reward employees for “performing Herculean efforts” and put money into their pockets.

“It’s almost like a mini stimulus package for Walmart associates,” he said. 

With the special bonus, Walmart’s full-time hourly associates will get a $300 bonus and part-time hourly associates will get a $150 bonus. The bonuses will be paid out April 2 and every hourly associate employed by the company as of March 1 will qualify.

Walmart has seen a boost in sales as people buy food, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other items as they prepare to stay at home amid rising cases of the coronavirus. 

Bartlett said Walmart is now seeing the most pressure in its supply chain with its food.

“It is like Black Friday day after day after day in some respects,” he said.

Walmart is the largest private employer in the U.S, with more than 1.3 million employees in the country. It has more than 2.1 million employees globally.

That workforce will get even larger in the coming months. Walmart said Thursday that it will hire 150,000 new associates through the end of May to work in stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers to keep up with heightened demand. The jobs will be temporary, but the company said many will become permanent over time. 

Earlier this week, Amazon said it would hire an additional 100,000 employees in the U.S. to meet the surge in online shopping.

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