By  on October 17, 2003

NEW YORK — Forget about fancy store designs or personal assistance. Selling beauty products can be easy as 1-2-3 even with a warehouse-gray facade and peg hook merchandising, as long as the retail banner reads Wal-Mart.

Like everything else it touches, Wal-Mart’s impact on mass beauty has been in caricature-like proportions. According to sources, 7 percent of the retailer’s $245 billion business is derived from beauty categories. Sounds reasonable enough until you do the math. That means Wal-Mart’s blue-smocked clerks ring up an unmatched $17.5 billion worth of cosmetics, fragrance, bath and body, and hair and skin care products annually.

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