Wal-Mart de Mexico's Sales Growth Lost Steam in 2017

Sales at Wal-Mart de Mexico SAB, Mexico's biggest retailer, slowed in 2017 after two consecutive years of double-digit growth, the company reported Monday.

Walmex, as the unit of Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is known, said sales last year rose 7.7% to 569.4 billion Mexican pesos ($29.6 billion), the smallest expansion since 2014.

Mexican retail sales slowed over the course of 2017 as a weaker peso against the U.S. dollar and a jump in gasoline prices helped push inflation to its highest level since mid-2001, prompting the central bank to raise interest rates. Consumer credit growth also slowed.

The higher inflation ate into wage increases, partly offsetting the positive impact of greater employment that included the creation of more than 820,000 formal private-sector jobs in the 12 months through November. The economy is expected to have grown 2.1% last year compared with 2.9% in 2016.

Walmex's December same-store sales rose 6.7% in Mexico as 1.1% more customers spent 5.6% more on average per visit, while in Central America, same-store sales for the month rose 4.9%.

An additional Sunday in December 2017 and the fact Christmas Day fell on a Monday instead of a Sunday likely helped store traffic in the final month of the year, and Mexican pay days last month fell closer to the weekends than they had the year before, favoring sales, Grupo Financiero Banorte said in a note.

Walmex ended 2017 with 2,356 stores in Mexico and 778 in Central America. The company plans to report its fourth-quarter financial results on Feb. 15.

Write to Anthony Harrup at anthony.harrup@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 08, 2018 17:23 ET (22:23 GMT)