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Wal-Mart to offer thousands more items in stores

In an effort to reverse recent U.S. sales declines, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is bringing back thousands of items to its stores this year, lowering prices and launching a new advertising campaign to promote its price-match policy. 

The nation’s largest retailer announced Monday that it would broaden its assortment by 8,500 items, or 11%, for an average store, a reversal of a 2009 strategy that had the company reduce its product assortment.

That 2009 decision was largely considered a misstep by analysts and customers and helped lead to seven straight quarters of sales declines at U.S. Wal-Mart stores open at least a year, an important measure of a retailer’s health.

Walmart The latest move comes at a time when consumers are feeling the strain of higher prices for gasoline, food and clothing. It  is aimed to boost the company’s relevance as a “one-stop shop,” Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer of Wal-Mart U.S., said in a call with reporters.

“If you want the product, we’re going to make it available for you,” he said. “That’s really the core concept of what we’re doing.”

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is bringing back or expanding its in-store offerings of products including pasta, beverages, snacks, paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, fishing rods, fabric, crafts and health and wellness items. Some of the additions will be based on market, such as snow blowers and ice hockey merchandise in colder regions. The process is expected to take several months to complete.

To make room for the additional merchandise, the company plans to increase the height of its shelves and put some products in the middle of aisles, Mac Naughton said.

Wal-Mart also said it would check on rivals’ prices more often and would work with its suppliers to lower the cost per item and pass those savings on to customers.

Shares of Wal-Mart were up 32 cents to $52.86 around noon Pacific.

-- Andrea Chang

Photo credit: Mike Nelson / EPA

 
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