By Sarah Nassauer 

Walmart Inc. said it would pay another round of bonuses to U.S. workers as the retailer, like rival Amazon.com Inc., seeks to retain and reward staffers managing a surge in sales during the coronavirus pandemic.

Walmart said it would pay $300 cash bonuses to full-time workers and $150 bonuses to part-time associates in the U.S. on Dec. 24. Last week, Amazon.com said it would pay a round of cash bonuses to its employees.

It will be Walmart's fourth special cash bonus paid to U.S. staff since the start of the pandemic. The company said the Christmas Eve bonuses will cost $388 million. Walmart also paid $319 million in regular quarterly bonuses on Nov. 24, which the company has long paid employees based on store performance.

Walmart has reported strong sales and profit figures in recent quarters as shoppers flock to stores offering food, one-stop shopping and online-order pickup. Including typical quarterly bonuses, Walmart said it has paid more than $2.8 billion in cash bonuses this year.

The company said about 1.5 million workers will get the latest bonuses, including staff at Walmart stores and distribution centers and its Sam's Club warehouse chain. Drivers and assistant managers will also receive a special cash bonus, it said.

Like Amazon, Walmart has been adding staff this year to handle the increased business as big-box chains that have been able to stay open throughout the pandemic draw more shoppers to their stores and websites.

Amazon said last week it would give staff a December bonus of $300 for full-time workers and $150 for part-time workers. Its last coronavirus related bonus came in June. Target Corp. has also given several bonuses to store and warehouse staff and earlier this year raised its starting wage to $15 an hour.

Amazon has rapidly increased its workforce during the pandemic, closing the gap with Walmart, which has long been the U.S. largest private employer.

Amazon said in October that it had nearly 1.4 million U.S. front-line workers, including Whole Foods staff and temporary workers, nearly doubling its workforce since late March.

Walmart employed more than 2.2 million world-wide as of Jan. 31, including about 700,000 international staff, according to its annual report. Walmart's international workforce is expected to drop after selling operations in various countries, including Japan, Argentina and the U.K.

On Thursday, Walmart also said it would extend a coronavirus leave policy for U.S. workers through July 5, 2021, given the continuing pandemic. The policy gives full- and part-time staff up to two weeks of pay should they need to stay home for Covid-related reasons, including mandated quarantines or symptoms of the illness.

Write to Sarah Nassauer at sarah.nassauer@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 03, 2020 12:36 ET (17:36 GMT)

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