Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is having a busy month. In a flurry of major announcements, the retailer reexamined its business, and is moving toward a strategy closer to its roots.
As the company grabs attention for a few merchandising missteps and some disappointing sales numbers, Wal-Mart executives said the company intends to refocus its efforts back to the core customers in its brick and mortar stores.
Over the past few weeks, Wal-Mart also said it will stop its market saturation strategy of building giant supercenters a mile apart while also refocusing its women’s apparel away from the trendy Metro 7 line. The retailer will also move back into core categories such as toys and electronics for the holidays, and maintain a price leadership position through initiatives such as its new $4 generic prescription program.
On the sales front, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer struggled through the early autumn, despite economic trends which were expected to boost sales. Wal-Mart posted a scant 0.5 percent increase in same store sales in October, and a flat forecast for November. The company blamed its lackluster same store sales numbers on renovations in its U.S. stores and softer-than-expected sales of women’s apparel following an overzealous push into more fashionable items.
Wal-Mart also said it intends to slow its expansion in the U.S. next year in an effort to improve returns and help bolster its stock price. Over time, the roll back is anticipated to positively impact comps.
At the same time, the retailer has found a home for its more experimental initiatives, such as its fashion forward brands, online. This month, Wal-Mart executives said that walmart.com, which was established as a stand-alone company, has proven to be a good testing ground for everything from expensive jewelry to Web-exclusive apparel lines. The company just launched a redesign of the Web site that touched 2.3 million pages and 925 product categories.
As the company moves out of autumn and into the holiday shopping season, where core categories do very well, it is expected to regain its sales momentum.
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