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Wal-Mart in its worst-ever sales slump

Shoppers wait in line to pay for their purchases at a Wal-Mart store. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty)

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is in the midst of its worst U.S. sales slump ever. The world’s largest retailer said today sales at its U.S. discount stores open at least a year fell 1.8 percent during the chain’s most important quarter.

The world’s largest retailer earned $5.02 billion, or $1.41 per share, up from $4.82 billion, or $1.26 per share, a year earlier.

Wal-Mart’s struggles are the result of a misstep: To jump-start lethargic growth and counter the rise of competitors such as cheap-chic rival Target Corp., executives veered away from the winning formula of late founder Sam Walton to provide “every day low prices” to the American working class. Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer by sales, instead raised prices on some items while promoting deals on others. Get the full story »

Wal-Mart, NASCAR broaden licensing deal

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has entered a retail and licensing deal with NASCAR under which it will offer exclusive products related to the stock car racing circuit in 1,500 of its U.S. stores.

The program, dubbed “Race Time,” begins in time for the Daytona 500 race  Sunday, which opens the 2011 NASCAR season, 10 years after famous driver Dale Earnhardt was killed in a racing accident. Get the full story »

Wal-Mart names Walmart U.S. merchandising chief

Wal-Mart Stores named a longtime grocery executive as the chief merchandising officer for its U.S. discount stores Friday, filling the post that had been vacant since John Fleming left the role last year. Get the full story »

Wal-Mart announces plan to cut salt, sugar in food

Wal-Mart on Thursday  unveiled a five-year plan to sell more nutritional food at a Washington news conference that included First Lady Michelle Obama.

The plan includes reducing sodium by 25 percent in grain products, lunch meats, salad dressing and frozen food. Get the full story »

South Africans accept Wal-Mart bid

A South African chain’s shareholders have overwhelmingly accepted Wal-Mart’s offer to buy 51 percent of their company, the chief executive said Monday, paving the way for the giant U.S.-based retailer to enter Africa.

Wal-Mart recalls 2.2 million space heaters

Wal-Mart is recalling more than 2 million electric heaters because of a “fire and burn hazard,” the company said Thursday.

The retailer, in a joint statement with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said it was recalling 2.2 million heaters of the following brands: Flow Pro, Airtech, Aloha Breeze and Comfort Essentials. Get the full story »

Wal-Mart: No deal for Lakeview store

From Crain’s Chicago Real Estate | A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive has told a North Side alderman that the retail giant has not signed an agreement to lease a store in the Lakeview neighborhood.

“Wal-Mart has not executed a lease or a letter of intent with the developer to locate a store on the property known as Broadway at Surf,” Maggie Sans, a Wal-Mart vice-president of public affairs and government relations, said in a statement. Get the full story>>

Court to hear Wal-Mart discrimination appeal

The Supreme Court will consider throwing out a massive lawsuit that claims Wal-Mart pays women less than men and promotes women less frequently.

The justices stepped into a case Monday that could involve 500,000 to 1.5 million women who work or once worked at the world’s largest private employer. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. calls it the largest employment class action in history.

Cyber Monday shopping ramps up

Online shoppers turned out in force on Cyber Monday — the day after a strong holiday shopping weekend — with a retail group predicting a 10 percent increase over last year.

Merchant Web sites drew 1,333,336 global page visits per minute during the noon ET hour, according to e-commerce tracking company Akamai. While that was a solid number, it was actually a little below the noontime peak of 1,337,601 page visits per minute globally three days earlier, on Black Friday, which is supposed to be the big day for traditional stores.
Get the full story »

Early bird to catch $500 Blu-Ray Sony laptop

A Sony laptop with a Blu-ray drive or a 50-inch Sanyo plasma television set could be yours for $500 on Black Friday if you’re willing to get up early, according to a Consumer Reports round-up of this weekend’s best gadget deals. Get the full story »

Wal-Mart to offer price matching on ‘Black Friday’

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it will match rivals’ prices on “Black Friday,” upping the ante in the battle to win sales on what is considered to be the kick-off to the U.S. holiday shopping season and a gauge of how overall holiday retail sales will shape up. Get the full story »

Wal-Mart to open D.C. stores in urban expansion

Wal-Mart plans to open four stores in the District of Columbia, The Washington Post reported in its Thursday edition.

The retailer continues to move forward with plans to open smaller outlets in major metropolitan areas. In Chicago, Wal-Mart won approval for its second and third stores in Chicago in the middle of 2010. Get the full story »

Wal-Mart sees U.S. same-store sales up for holidays

A Wal-Mart employee stocks the shelves in Pompano Beach, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Wal-Mart Stores expects U.S. same-store sales to rise during the holiday shopping season, when it hopes to lure its low- to middle-income customers with discounts on toys and electronics and free shipping for online orders.

The world’s largest retailer also posted higher quarterly profit Tuesday, buoyed by cost cuts and growth in international sales, and raised its full-year forecast. Get the full story »

Wal-Mart profit up despite sales decline

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported a 9.3 percent increase in third-quarter net income as the world’s largest retailer benefited from cost controls and a robust international business. The company also raised its full-year profit outlook.

The improvements come despite weakness at its U.S. business. Total revenue at U.S. Walmart stores fell as fewer customers visited and spent less when they did. Revenue at stores open at least a year also fell, for the sixth quarter in a row, underscoring the challenges of its U.S. business as many customers struggle economically.

Amazon hurt by rivals’ free shipping, deals

Amazon.com shares tumbled as much as 4 percent Monday on concerns that offers of free shipping by Wal-Mart Stores Inc and other retailers could challenge the online company’s results. Get the full story »