Walmart has today beaten Wall Street expectations with its quarterly revenue and earnings as it reported record US online sales as stockpiling drove consumers to its stores and website during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The world's largest brick-and-mortar retailer saw a surge in demand late in March and early in April as "shelter-in-place" orders made consumers stock up on staples while limiting their trips to the grocers. 

However, the company pulled its forecast for the full-year due to the uncertainty to its business caused by the pandemic. 

Walmart's online business, which rose 74% in the first-quarter, benefited from the retailer's investments in store pick-up and delivery services. 

It said the strength of its own online operation made it decide to discontinue, the online start-up it acquired in 2016 for $3.3 billion. 

The business was undergoing an overhaul last year by integrating its retail, technology, marketing, analytics and product teams with Walmart's own online business. 

The company added that grocery pickup and delivery for food and other consumables reached record sales volumes and also saw high demand for electronics, toys and sporting goods in the quarter. 

Overall, sales at US stores open at least a year rose 10%, excluding fuel, in the first quarter ended April 30. Analysts had expected a gain of 8.8%, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. 

Walmart has also been ramping up hiring, temporarily increasing wages and spending more on the maintenance of its stores and fulfillment centres.

This comes as frustrations mount among US warehouse, delivery and retail workers over concerns about their safety and pay. 

Operating margins fell 62 basis points to 20.5% in the quarter as Walmart said it incurred additional costs related to pandemic of nearly $900m. 

But its operating income rose 5.6% to $5.22 billion in the quarter ended April 30 with adjusted earnings per share at $1.18, beating Wall Street expectations of $1.12.  

Total revenue rose 8.6% to $134.6 billion, beating analysts' estimates for $132.79 billion.