Wal-Mart cuts prices on 10 percent more back-to-school items than last year

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is upping the price game for the crucial back-to-school shopping season.

The world's largest retailer has cut prices on 10 percent more back-to-school items compared with last year, signaling that the second-most important shopping season behind the winter holidays will be fiercely competitive. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer also said that it's increasing the number of back-to-school products sold on its website by 30 percent to 75,000 this year from last year.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Steve Bratspies, executive vice president, general merchandise at Wal-Mart, said he's seeing back-to-school promotions start early this year. He expects that its low-income shoppers will stagger their buying throughout the season, a trend it has seen in the last few years. A little over 300 back-to-school items will have what Wal-Mart refers to as "rollbacks" or discounts.

"It's a long season. You need be prepared the whole time," Bratspies added. "We are going to stay really strong."

The more aggressive pricing strategy comes as Wal-Mart finished five consecutive quarters of declines in revenue at stores opened at least a year. The measure is considered a key indicator of a retailer's health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed. Wal-Mart is slated to report second-quarter results next month.

Wal-Mart is also offering teachers across the country savings on classroom supplies. Teachers who shop at Wal-Mart stores during its Teacher Appreciation Week, from July 25 through July 31, are eligible to receive a Wal-Mart e-gift card for 10 percent back on close to 15,000 products, from pencils to glue. It's the first time Wal-Mart is offering such a refund program. The company estimates that teachers spend about $1,000 preparing their classrooms with various supplies, half of that comes from their own pockets.


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