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• In his pre-recorded message released along with the company’s second quarter financial results, Bill Simon, president/CEO of Walmart’s US stores division, said the following:

“The economy remains challenging for our core customers. Customers are still consolidating trips due to higher year-over-year gas prices. The swings in sales due to paycheck cycles remain pronounced, and our stores must staff and stock for the volatility, both up and down. We also have seen an increase in the number of customers relying on government assistance for food and necessities....

“Based on the start of August sales, we're confident that our plans are working, and we'll see ongoing sales improvement.... With the ongoing economic volatility, it's as important as ever to deliver on our one-stop shopping promise -- a broad assortment of merchandise backed with everyday low prices.”

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal writes that “surveys by retail consultants, analysts and brand experts now find that Wal-Mart's aura of price leadership has faded since the recession, because customers who searched for better deals sometimes found them at competitors such as Dollar General Corp., Aldi Inc. and Inc.”

According to the , “Wal-Mart has responded by returning to its roots. It is cutting the number of ‘rollbacks,’ or planned sales specials, after some customers concluded Wal-Mart was becoming as gimmicky as competitors. Wal-Mart also began restoring thousands of products it had removed from stores as it sought to tidy up cluttered aisles. Yet with the back-to-the-future strategy slow to show improvement, retail experts are questioning whether Wal-Mart can win back its market share...”

Bloomberg reports that Walmart-owned Asda Group in the UK is ramping up the expansion of the Netto chain that it owns there, and expects to grow it from 147 stores today to 180 by the end of the year and 250 units within five years.

The story says that the Netto stores, “which are between 5,000 and 25,000 square feet, are smaller than the company’s so-called Supercenters and offer a range of items broad enough that customers can buy all the groceries they need for a week at the same prices as at a larger shop.”
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