The fortunes of the Walton family — the pioneers of American bargain shopping — have reached new heights during a pandemic that has otherwise obliterated trillions of dollars of value across global markets.
The combined net worth of siblings Alice, Jim and Rob Walton has climbed 2.6% this year to $165.7 billion as recession-wary shoppers flock to Walmart Inc. stores to stock up on pantry staples. The retailer’s shares jumped 6.1% through Monday, compared with an 18% drop for the S&P 500 Index.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company’s dominance of mass-market retail has made its controlling shareholders the world’s richest family. The Waltons own about half of the stock.
Their gains make them an anomaly. The economic contraction caused by the coronavirus pandemic has erased $805 billion from the combined fortunes of the world’s 500 richest people, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Just 82 individuals on the ranking have gains this year, led by Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, as orders from house-bound shoppers helped boost his fortune by $7.8 billion to $122.7 billion. Others include Eric Yuan, chief executive officer of Zoom Video Communications Inc., maker of the now-ubiquitous teleconference software.
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