Grocery Helps Wal-Mart's May Same-Store Sales Inch Up

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Grocery Helps Wal-Mart's May Same-Store Sales Inch Up

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. said yesterday its May same-store sales rose 1.1 percent, boosted by higher same-store sales at Sam's Club. Grocery sales were a bright spot in an otherwise mediocre performance from conventional Wal-Mart stores.

The retailer said it expects June same-store sales will be somewhere in the range of flat to up 2 percent.

In the four-week period ending June 1, Sam's Club same-store sales rose 5.4 percent, while Wal-Mart stores increased a just 0.3 percent. Including fuel, same-store sales rose 1.3 percent, including a 6.4 percent rise at Sam's Club and a 0.3 percent rise at Wal-Mart.

Net sales for the month grew 7.7 percent to $28.26 billion, from $26.23 billion last year. Wal-Mart Stores sales grew 6 percent to $18.07 billion, Sam's Club sales grew 8.1 percent to $3.55 billion, and International sales grew 14.2 percent to $6.64 billion.

Sales at the Wal-Mart Stores segment were stronger in grocery than general merchandise. Perishables had a solid performance for the period, the company said, driven by strong comparable store sales in bread and dairy. Sales of live plants and lawn and garden items were above plan as well.

Meanwhile, price cuts continue to positively impact sales, according to the company. "The price rollbacks on thousands of products throughout our stores help our customers make ends meet," said Eduardo Castro-Wright, president and c.e.o. for Wal-Mart Stores U.S., in a statement. "We continue to highlight rollbacks and the 'save even more' features throughout the store, as well as in our circular advertising."

During the May reporting period, Sam's Club continued its success with sales to small business owners. Food-related categories, particularly in the perishable area, performed well, the retailer said.

In a report, Richard Hastings, v.p. and senior retail sector analyst at Bernard Sands LLC, noted, "It is possible that Sam's Club is stealing sales from the Wal-Mart supercenters at a faster rate. It is difficult to change shopper loyalties in a short period, so the outlook for a recovery in comp store sales at the Wal-Mart Stores division, even with store remodels, is discouraging."