Interpreting Walmart’s sales from Space SNN#3

Welcome back to the ‘SpaceKnow Nowcasting Newsletter’ where the SpaceKnow team shares insights from its satellite activity nowcasting datasets. Today’s focus is on Walmart, SpaceKnow tracks activity from every logistic center used by Walmart via satellite.

Last week, Walmart provided an update on the second quarter and full year 2023. The company’s profit expectations declined due to a change in consumer spending habits caused by increased consumer prices. 

Since inflation has soared, and real purchasing power has fallen, Walmart consumers have been cautious about spending money. Groceries are necessary products but consumers are postponing the purchase of electronics, clothing, etc which have higher profit margins for the company. 

SpaceKnow indices play a leading role in exploring the supply chain movements of the company. Satellite activity data give insights into the performance of company operations in near-real time. 

Walmart Accumulated Level Index is designed to capture the trend in activity at logistic (distribution) centers owned by Walmart. Walmart’s distribution centers play an important role in the retail process. There are over 200 distribution centers across the country and 31 eCommerce fulfillment centers. This network ships everything from general merchandise to groceries to Walmart and Sam’s Club stores and to e-commerce customers. Every regional distribution center supports 90 to 100 Walmart stores in a 150-mile radius. The index tracks the movement of trucks in and out of these centers. Thus, we capture Walmart’s buying trends, the movement of goods to their stores , and any inventory patterns on an aggregate basis.

Walmart ALI started to lose momentum at the beginning of February after Russia invaded Ukraine and food and fuel prices rose suddenly and sharply. The decline from the beginning of February to the end of June is 21.8%. The trend has stabilized from the second half of July.

Get in touch to get access to full data

Walmart Accumulated Level Index is correlated with the cost of goods sold. Our index measures the volume of goods sold, while COGS is in dollars. Part of the difference in the two lines is probably due to falling implied prices of the average good sold, as households shift to groceries versus discretionary items.

Figure 2: Walmart Accumulated Level Index vs. Walmart’s COGS

Walmart  Satellite Activity Indexes (SAI) are designed to capture the change in activity at logistic centers. The Walmart Low Activity Index (ASI) shows the percentage of Walmart stores exhibiting a low change in activity in the observed time period. If the index is 8%, the interpretation is that 8% of Walmart stores showed a low change in activity during the selected time point. The SAI index decreased by 50% since the end of February and stabilized in the third week of June. However, the index is still bumping along the bottom and has a long way to recover. 

Get in touch to get access to full data
Get in touch to get access to full data

Key Takeaways

  • Clients with subscriptions to the Walmart nowcasting dataset would have been the first to see disruptions in the company’s activity.
  • Walmart is going to release its financials on August 16, 2022. Further details on business performance will be discussed. 
  • The market will also be watching back-to-school sales as an indicator of customer behavior. Our indices will be a near-real time barometer of that trend. 

Did you enjoy this newsletter article? Subscribe using this link, and be the first to receive the next SpaceKnow Nowcasting Newsletter.

Parts of the analysis presented in this article were taken from SpaceKnow’s paid client-only briefs.

Reach out to if you’re interested in becoming a subscriber to the paid version of these reports and if you would like more information on SpaceKnow’s nowcasting datasets.

Stay light years ahead of the competition.

Interested in:

Please select at least one option