Walmart to pay out $157 million in bonuses this week

Almost 10,800 Walmart employees in metro Atlanta are getting an extra bump in pay this week thanks to bonuses from the giant retailer.

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The Bentonville, Arkansas, based company, the nation’s largest employer, said it is paying out $6.3 million in bonuses to 10,798 metro Atlanta employees based on the fourth-quarter performance of the stores where they work. That averages out to $583 per employee.

Last September, about a million employees company-wide got bonuses averaging $220, according to Reuters.

Employees will also see annual raises in this week’s paychecks, the company said.

Walmart’s pay perks mark something of a change in direction.

The discount retailer, which also operates Sam’s Club stores, has carpeted the nation with big box stores that offer customers a huge range of products and cheap prices. But the company also has long drawn criticism for paying low wages to its workers and for putting many Main Street stores out of business.

More recently, it has faced challenges competing with online retailers, particularly Amazon.

Last year, Walmart promised to pay most of its employees at least $10 an hour, and to begin paying bonuses. It paid one-time bonuses of between $180 and $220 to its U.S. employees last year and promised additional bonuses based on the performance of the stores where they work.

Nationwide, Walmart said it is paying out $157 million in bonuses this week to its 850,000 employees based on performance during its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Jan. 31. For the year, Walmart said it paid out more than $700 million in bonuses.

“The purpose of the bonuses is to thank our associates for their hard work and superb performance,” said Paul Lewellen, Regional General Manager for Walmart in the southeast. “When our associates succeed, the entire company succeeds.”

Last month, Walmart reported net income of $13.6 billion for its most recent fiscal year, down 7 percent from its previous year. Revenue increased 0.8 percent, to almost $486 billion.

But Walmart said it also had its best comparable sales growth of the year during its fourth quarter -- up 1.8 percent. That measure compares sales at stores open at least a year.

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