Walmart plans to hire 150,000 people to meet increased demand during the coronavirus crisis and will pay out $365 million in bonuses, the US retail giant said.

"These roles will be temporary at first, but many will convert to permanent roles over time," it said.

The firm added it would pay $300 bonuses to full-time employees and $150 to those part-time.

Walmart said Thursday it wanted to reward them "for their hard work and dedication to serving customers in a time of an unprecedented national health crisis." It also plans to speed up payment of the next quarterly bonus payments, which will take its payout to nearly $550 million.

The hiring drive comes as travel restrictions and lockdown measures in various US states and cities to curb the spread of the virus have led people to stock up on basic foodstuffs and order more online.

Amazon has also announced plans to recruit an additional 100,000 workers in the United States to cope with the surge in internet shopping.

Meanwhile, many small businesses have to close, at least temporarily, and 70,000 people have been laid off in a single week across the country, according to the latest weekly unemployment benefit claims.

"We know millions of Americans who are usually employed at this time are temporarily out of work, and at the same time we're currently seeing strong demand in our stores," said Walmart CEO Doug McMillon.

The retail chain said it would speed up recruitment, cutting the application process time from two weeks to 24 hours. (AFP)

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