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.
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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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