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Wal-Mart reports October sales, comps increase


BENTONVILLE, Ark. Wal-Mart reported net sales for the four-week October period ended Oct. 31, of $28.57 billion, a 2.3% increase over $27.92 billion in the like 2007 period. Comparable-store sales increased 2.4%, excluding fuel.

October net sales for Walmart U.S. rose 5.3% to $18.36 billion; Sam's Club came in at $3.44 billion, a 4.5% increase over 2007; while International sales dropped 5.9% to $6.76 billion. Comparable stores sales rose 2.2% and 3.6% for Walmart U.S. and Sam's Club, respectively.

"Customer comparable traffic is higher and our seasonal merchandising events are delivering improved sales," said Eduardo Castro-Wright, Walmart U.S. president and ceo. "Highly-competitive pricing, especially on basics throughout the store, is driving these results. We see more customers shopping more often at Walmart. Customers see that we are broadening the price gap against our competitors. They saw it during the Halloween season and they will continue to see it during the Christmas shopping season."

Sales at Sam's Club during the October period continued to be driven by strengths in fresh food, dry grocery and consumables. Produce, meat, baby care and pets were stand out categories. Weaker categories included electronics, jewelry and home-related products.

"We introduced the October Savings Challenge program to show current and prospective members how much they can save by shopping at Sam's Club based on their own purchasing patterns," said Sam's Club president and ceo Doug McMillon. "In connection with this, we also offered a 10-week membership for $10 that added incrementally to membership with no significant impact on the trend of new regular one-year memberships."

In the international division, October sales were significantly impacted by the strengthening U.S. dollar. "Economic conditions around the world continue to put pressure on consumers," said Mike Duke, vice chairman, Wal-Mart International. "While this is impacting our and other businesses, we are uniquely positioned by our stability and everyday low price strategy to help customers in these difficult times. This is reflected in our sales results, on a constant currency basis."

According to evp and cfo Tom Schoewe, the company expects November U.S. comparable-store sales to be between 1% and 3%. "Our underlying business in the United States and around the world remains strong. While there remain some uncertainties with the global economy, we believe falling gas prices could help customers as we enter this holiday season."

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