"Wal-Mart Stores Inc handed out $933.6 million in bonuses to its rank-and-file US workers on Thursday, an increase of 46.7 per cent compared to last year," the Wall Street Journal said in a report published online.
The WSJ report cited a memo to the employees by Wal-Mart chief executive, who took over six week ago, Mike Duke, announcing the bonuses to about one million of its hourly workers.
"Including profit-sharing payments, 401(k) contributions and merchandise discounts, Wal-Mart says it is giving workers a record $2 billion this year, an increase of about 11 per cent over last year's $1.8 billion total, " the report stated.
Wal-Mart said the bonuses announced were a part of an annual program and the report quoted the company spokeswoman as saying that, "we have been rewarding our associates for their hard work with financial incentives like these for years."
The bonus averages $933.60 for each qualified employee, ranging from cashiers to shelf stockers, it added.
Last year, Wal-Mart paid out about $1.8 billion in awards, including more than $636.4 million in bonuses. The retailer's US work force has grown by about 33,800 to 1.45 million last year.
Interestingly, the bonus announcement has come just a week after both houses of Congress introduced the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that would make it easier for employees to unionise. Wal-Mart has been long opposed to the bill and had been lobbying hard against it.
The WSJ report pointed out that the Arkansas-based company has been a strong performer throughout the recession, posting solid sales and earnings gains, while many other retailers are suffering double-digit percentage declines.
Wal-Mart reported $401.2 billion in net sales for its most recent fiscal year, which ended on January 31, a gain of 7.2 per cent from the prior year. Income from continuing operations increased three per cent to $13.3 billion and earnings per share rose six per cent to $3.35.