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• The Orlando Business Journal reports that Wal-Mart “is debuting a new technology for customers who use flexible spending account debit cards to pay for health care or dependent care merchandise.”

A flexible spending account (FSA), the Business Journal explains, “is an employer-sponsored benefit plan that allows employees to voluntarily withhold part of their paycheck to pay for approved health care expenses on a pre-tax basis.”

The new technology “automatically identifies FSA eligible merchandise, which has a unique identifying number, as items are scanned at checkout. Once all of the items are scanned, a total is displayed for the transaction showing FSA and non-FSA merchandise. If a customer wants to use an FSA card for payment of FSA eligible merchandise, he or she can swipe the card at the debit reader and pay for non-FSA merchandise with another form of payment.”

• Wal-Mart’s Asda Group in the UK has decided to close down one of two Asda Essentials test stores, just 10 months after the unit was opened.

The company says there are no plans to close down the other test store.

Asda Essentials carries primarily own-label products that were considered by the company to be basic to the shopping experience, and the format was seen as being competitive to the likes of Aldi.
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