E-commerce sales growth at Walmart U.S. was 63%, the company reported, with the majority organic through Walmart.com. McMillon went on to note that Wal-Mart.com continues to ramp up its selection of goods, and now has 50 million items for consumers to choose from compared to 10 million a year ago. Additionally, Wal-Mart recently introduced free two-day shipping for orders of $35 or more, and launched a new service that allows customers to order products online and receive a discount for picking them up at its stores. "We're moving faster to combine our digital and physical assets to make shopping easier and more enjoyable for customers," said McMillon during Wal-Mart's earnings call. Those efforts appear to be succeeding, as evidenced by Wal-Mart's explosive online growth and steady in-store traffic gains. Still, the investments Wal-Mart is making in its digital and store-improvement initiatives are weighing on its margins; first-quarter operating income fell 0.7% year over year to $5.2 billion. Despite the lower profits, Wal-Mart's cash generation remains strong, with the retail titan generating $5.4 billion in operating cash flow and $3.4 billion in free cash flow in the first quarter. That -- combined with the more than $6.5 billion in cash on its balance sheet -- allowed Wal-Mart to return $3.7 billion to shareholders via dividends and share repurchases. For the second quarter, Wal-Mart expects comparable-store sales growth (excluding fuel) of 1.5% to 2% for its U.S. locations and 1% to 1.5% at its Sam's Club locations.
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The Green party in Lower Saxony wants to restrict online shopping abilities on Sundays to “protect” the leisurely weekends of customer call centre workers. The Greens say that shoppers would still be able to buy items online on Sundays, but said it would be “sufficient when the processing of orders happens on Monday”. SEE ALSO: Seven things that really grind your gears when you first arrive in Germany “Workers must not have to be available the whole weekend,” said state Green party leader Stefan Körner. The Greens also said their policy proposal is aimed at levelling the playing field for the retail sector and online business. The debate about opening businesses on Sunday - both online and physically - has been raging on recently with major department stores arguing that to compete with internet commerce on such a significant day of shopping, they should have more flexibility to open on the Christian day of rest. Karstadt and Kaufhof have backed an initiative towards this cause, called “Selbstbestimmter Sonntag”, meaning self-determination Sunday. But churches and unions criticize this movement, with unions advocating for workers' rights. “Working during unfavourable times impedes social contact and the compatibility of family and work,” Verdi union spokesman Andreas Splanemann told Berlin tabloid BZ . Religious leaders, meanwhile, argue that the protection of Sunday runs much deeper within the country's values, pointing to Article 139 of the German Constitution, which states: “Sundays and holidays recognized by the state shall remain protected by law as days of rest from work and of spiritual improvement.” The Protestant Church of Germany argues that Sundays belong to the people and not to merchants.
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