Walmart’s logo is seen outside one of the stores ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. November 27, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

(Reuters) – Walmart Inc (WMT.N) said on Friday it would hire 50,000 more workers at its stores, clubs and distribution centers to meet a surge in demand for groceries and household essentials from consumers stockpiling during the coronavirus outbreak.

The retailer said it had reached its earlier target of hiring 150,000 workers six weeks ahead of schedule, taking in 5,000 people per day on average at a time when millions of Americans are losing their jobs amid unprecedented “stay-at-home” orders from state and local governments.

The measures, while necessary to control the spread of the disease, have also brought economic activity to a virtual standstill, forcing companies to take drastic steps to save cash.

The S&P 500 index .SPX has fallen 15% from its February record high, while Walmart’s stock has surged over 10% in the same period.

Walmart said it had worked with more than 70 companies that furloughed workers due to the pandemic to hire its 150,000 new employees, many of whom came from the restaurant and hospitality industries.

The company said 85% of the workers being hired are going into temporary or part-time roles. (bit.ly/2RJHbCS)

Skyrocketing demand for food, hand sanitizer, toilet paper and other household products has also prompted retailers Kroger (KR.N), Target (TGT.N) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) to hire by the thousands.

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath

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