Wal-Mart Sees Increased Price Leadership

Wal-Mart Stores has increased its pricing advantage over the largest traditional supermarket operators, the company said during its annual investors' meeting.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores here has increased its pricing advantage over the largest traditional supermarket operators, the company said during its annual investors' meeting yesterday.

John Fleming, chief merchandising officer at Wal-Mart U.S., said the company's own price survey comparing it with eight large supermarket chains showed that it has a price differential of 12% to 14%, up a few percentage points over previous ranges. In particular, he said the company is focusing on price leadership in fresh foods.

In conjunction with the meeting, the company issued a statement yesterday outlining its plans to reduce prices on a range of items for the holidays in a series of weekly promotions, beginning this week with bananas at 39 cents per pound and chubs of 73% lean ground beef at $1.25 per pound. Other items with reduced prices include Spring Valley chewable vitamin C (60 count) for $2 and select board games, kids activity sets and Hot Wheels sets for $15 — part of a plan to save shoppers "hundreds of million of dollars every week through the holidays," Fleming said.

Also in the meeting, the company emphasized its plans to grow in major metropolitan areas using small, more efficient store designs, but said it will continue to spend more on remodels than new store builds. Remodeled stores are seeing a lift in basket sizes, the company said, and noted that sales at remodeled stores improve noticeably in the areas of fresh food, home goods and apparel, and show market improvement in customer satisfaction scores.

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