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Remote work to last till July at Walmart

Walmart Inc. said Friday that its U.S. office employees will keep working remotely until July 5, revising an earlier estimated target of Jan. 31 as the coronavirus continues to surge across the country.

Donna Morris, Walmart's chief people officer, said in a memo to workers that regions where covid-19 cases are rising include the states where most of its corporate workers are -- Arkansas, California, New Jersey and New York.

Despite promising news regarding vaccines, "health experts suggest broad access will likely take a number of months," Morris said. As a result, she said, employees will continue working "in a primarily remote manner until July 5," when the company expects to start phasing workers back into its offices.

The Bentonville-based retailer will keep employees updated, Morris said, and if circumstances allow a transition back to offices sooner, the company will be flexible regarding workers' personal needs.

Morris also said that starting Monday, all corporate office workers who test positive for the virus are asked to report their cases through the company's confidential self-reporting portal.

-- Serenah McKay

Delivery is offered for Christmas trees

Walmart Inc. will deliver Christmas trees to customers' homes for the first time this year as many shoppers choose to buy online during the coronavirus pandemic.

Both fresh-cut and potted trees are available at Walmart.com, and free delivery is offered on many items. Customers also can order Christmas greenery and plants such as poinsettias and amaryllis, the retailer said in a news release. Delivery can be scheduled at the customer's convenience.

In addition, Walmart is partnering with home services firm Handy to hang Christmas lights on homes. Installation costs $129 for one-story homes and $199 for two-story homes. Handy also will remove the lights after Christmas for an additional fee.

Also, home-improvement retailers Lowe's and Home Depot are offering free delivery of Christmas trees this year, citing customers' preference to shop from the safety of their homes. Both companies require that orders be placed online. And Lowe's requires a minimum order of $45.

-- Serenah McKay

3.88 fall-off leaves state index at 461.79

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Friday at 461.79, down 3.88.

Global stocks reached record highs on Monday, but eased off in a choppy week of trading. The Nasdaq fell 0.77% for the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.73%.

The Arkansas Index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.

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