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Strong Performance in Grocery, Stimulus Checks Helped Boost Wal-Mart's May Comps 3.9 Percent

Wal-Mart's comparable-store sales at its namesake U.S. stores jumped 4 percent in May, with particularly strong performances in grocery, health and wellness, and entertainment, the retailer said yesterday. Wal-Mart also cited the economic stimulus checks as a sales boost.

"The Wal-Mart U.S. underlying business continues to be strong," said Eduardo Castro-Wright, Wal-Mart U.S. president and c.e.o. "Our comparable-store sales continue to increase because of our price leadership, merchandising initiatives, and operational improvements. We also believe we're seeing some benefits from the stimulus checks. The combination of these factors contributed to an increase in comparable-store traffic. Customers continue to rely on Wal-Mart to stretch their dollars."

Ongoing price initiatives continue to support the strength of grocery, Wal-Mart said, adding that sales in health and wellness increased with the expansion of the $4 prescription program, which now includes more than 1,000 over-the-counter medications priced at $4 or less.

Sam's Club experienced sales strength during the May period in fresh foods, dry grocery, and consumables, the retailer said. Its comps jumped 3.6 percent without factoring in fuel. Fuel sales were higher both in gallons and dollars sold, increasing comparable-club sales by 2.9 percentage points.

"Our estimate for U.S. comparable-store sales, excluding fuel, for the June five-week period is between 2 percent and 4 percent," said Tom Schoewe, e.v.p. and c.f.o. "This guidance represents both the underlying strength of our existing U.S. businesses and the potential benefit from the stimulus checks."
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