By  on July 24, 2007

Wal-Mart on Monday launched a new ad campaign touting reduced prices on 16,000 items. Timed for the start of back-to-school shopping, the retail giant zeroed in on rising gas prices, a top concern among much of its customer base. In one TV spot, several mothers reveal their taste in music when they were teenagers and try to sound hip as their daughters cringe.

Families with school-age children are expected to spend on average $563 this year on b-t-s merchandise, Wal-Mart said, citing research by BIGresearch. The retailer claims its new price campaign, which it calls Operation Unbeatable, can save 10 to 50 percent on b-t-s items.

While many of the discounted products fall into the school supplies category — for example, $1 buys four wide-ruled notebooks, two 4-oz. bottles of Elmer's glue and a 24-pack of crayons — there's plenty of apparel in the mix.

"There are a number of good basics in our Faded Glory and No Boundaries lines, from shorts to tanks to polos to T-shirts," said a Wal-Mart spokeswoman. "Athletics Works is a big brand right now and we will continue [to highlight] more Athletic Works." The spokeswoman said other brands could be part of the discount program in the future.

According to Wal-Mart, $50 could buy a week's worth of school clothes, with shorts at $5 each and shirts priced at two for $9.

"We know it's tough right now, and Americans are looking to us to provide the best value, and we will. Let there be no doubt [that] we mean business when it comes to price leadership," Bill Simon, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Wal-Mart Stores, U.S., said in a statement.

The price reduction program began on July 1 and will continue through the holiday season. The discounts are being advertised in circulars and will be supported by Wal-Mart's policy of matching the price of any local competitor's printed advertisement for an identical product.

"This is companywide," the spokeswoman said. "We're looking for the best brands that consumers are focused on."

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