LOS ANGELES — Eighty percent of Wal-Mart customers cite personal financial security as their No. 1 concern and credit card payments have dropped in double-digit percentages over the last few quarters as the crisis on Wall Street has hit Main Street, Eduardo Castro-Wright, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart U.S., told Town Hall Los Angeles yesterday. "People are wondering if they will have enough money to put food on the table so their families can eat," he said. Regarding credit, "people's credit cards are maxed out and they can't use them for discretionary purchases, so they have to make choices about how to spend the money they have, and that's causing a lot of suffering among many merchants," he pointed out. Castro-Wright also mentioned that private-brand sales at Wal-Mart have grown at 2.5 times the pace of national brands over the last few months, and the percentage of sales at the beginning and middle of each month, when people get paid, has increased more than 250 basis points in the last three or four months at Wal-Mart.
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