Food Sales Only Light In Dim Quarter for Wal-Mart

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart continues to find growth in food, with supercenter food sales growing 17 percent for the second quarter, compared to total sales growth of 10.4 percent for the Wal-Mart division as a whole -- including supercenters, discount stores, and neighborhood markets.

This correlates with the number of supercenter openings for the quarter: while Wal-Mart only opened eight discount stores during this period, it opened 25 new supercenters, and relocated or expanded from a discount store 52 supercenters, ending the quarter with 1,838 supercenter locations.

Food comp sales were "up in the mid-single digits," said Lee Scott, who spoke during the chain's second quarter conference call yesterday.

For the company as a whole, sales were up 10.2 percent for the second quarter and 9.8 percent for the year-to-date. Net income increased 5.8 percent for the second quarter, and increased 9.8 percent for the year.

Comparable store sales for the U.S. were up 3.5 percent for the second quarter, with Wal-Mart stores division up 3.6 percent and Sam’s Club up 2.9 percent. For the first six months, total U.S. comp store sales were up 3.2 percent for the company.

Rising fuel costs including a $30 million rise in transportation costs and $100 million in utility costs impacted margins for the quarter, and -- coupled with other expenses -- led the retailer to lower its earnings forecast for the rest of the year.

Wal-Mart's stock declined following the release of the quarterly earnings. The share price closed at $45.57 yesterday, down $1.53, or 3.12 percent.
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