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Wal-Mart's May Performance Helped by Food; Target Beats Forecast

BENTONVILLE, Ark. and MINNEAPOLIS -- Mass merchandisers Wal-Mart and Target each posted a fifth consecutive year of positive comparable store sales in May 2005 yesterday.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. said consolidated sales at its U.S. stores open at least a year rose 2.5 percent, thanks in part to brisk food sales that made up for slower-performing general merchandise items.

Total company sales for the four weeks ended May 27 rose 9.3 percent to $23.4 billion.

Comp sales for the Wal-Mart Stores division, which includes its conventional stores and supercenters, were up 2.7 percent. Wal-Mart's Sam’s Club division posted a less impressive 1.6 percent comparable store sales gain.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis-based Target Corp. said yesterday that its May sales increased 5.1 percent at stores open at least a year -- higher than its 3 percent to 5 percent forecast.

The company cited toys, intimate apparel, ladies apparel, electronics, and pharmacy operations as its strongest merchandise categories. It posted its weakest sales in home improvement items, auto merchandise, decorative home goods, and children's apparel.

Target's total sales from continuing operations grew 12.1 percent to $3.5 billion from $3.12 billion in May 2004. The retailer said sales were strongest in the South, the Southeast, and on the West Coast.

Shares of Wal-Mart on the New York Stock Exchange closed yesterday at $48.22, a .63 percent jump from the day before. Target's shares catapulted 1.52 percent, closing at $54.65.
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