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• Wal-Mart announced yesterday that it is lowering prices on thousands of items by between 10 and 30 percent, as well as offering no interest payments for 18 months on purchases of $250 or more made on its Wal-Mart credit card.

The company framed the price cuts as being its own “economic stimulus package,” coming even as the federal government negotiates and debates a federal approach to the worsening economy.

“We all know economic times are tough so our plan is to help with added savings throughout the year, focusing especially on what people want, when they need it,” said John Fleming, Wal-Mart’s chief merchandising officer, in a prepared statement. “Shoppers are depending on us to deliver the best price so they can stick to their plans, no matter what the economy throws at us. We won’t let them down.”

The price cuts cover food and nonfood products.

• The New York Times this morning reports that “in a major revamping of its sluggish clothing business, Wal-Mart Stores will shut two divisions at its headquarters in Arkansas, eliminate dozens of positions and move dozens more to New York City.

“This will be the first time in years that Wal-Mart, a company renowned for growth, has laid off a significant number of workers at its headquarters.

“The overhaul, which has not been made public, is intended to revive one of the weakest departments in Wal-Mart’s 5,000 stores: men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, a $30 billion business for the retailer.”

The move is seen as a complete reversal of the company’s previously announced strategy, which was keyed to more upscale brands and collections. Instead, Wal-Mart is now embracing basic items like t-shirts, with a more overt focus on value.

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