BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores here said the fresh food category — a major driver of increased comparable-store sales during the third quarter ended Oct. 31 — will be a big part of the company's year-end holiday merchandising.
The company recently launched “Operation Main Street,” a seven-week price-reduction initiative for the holidays that spans the entire range of offerings.
“These are difficult times, but these are Wal-Mart times, and I feel optimistic about the fourth quarter,” said Eduardo Castro-Wright, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart's U.S. division.
The company trimmed its outlook for fourth-quarter profit gains, however, citing a projected 6-cents-per-share impact from international sales against the stronger dollar.
Castro-Wright said the U.S. division experienced flat traffic and higher average tickets, excluding fuel, in the third quarter, “and given that many customers are feeling a strain on their budgets and are reducing some discretionary spending, our traffic-driving initiatives and value-framing campaign are the best approach for this holiday season.”
He noted that Halloween business at supercenters and discount stores came late, “but it did come,” with fresh grocery, candy and Halloween offerings driving comparable-store sales growth.
Food-cost inflation has been in the mid-single digits, the company said.
Sales at Wal-Mart's U.S division rose 6.1% in the quarter to $61.2 billion and 7.1% for the nine-month period to $184.3 billion, while comps, excluding fuel, were up 2.7% in the quarter and 3.4% for the year to date. Sales at Sam's Club jumped 7.4% to $11.6 billion for the quarter and 7.7% to $35 billion for the nine months, while comps, excluding fuel, climbed 4.5% in the quarter and 4% for the year to date.
|Inc/Share||80 cents||70 cents|
|* EXCLUDING FUEL|