Business

Wal-Mart working to improve sales

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. —Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executives pledged today at the company's annual shareholders extravaganza to continue to change the company's merchandise mix and to rebuild sales.

The world's largest retailer reached $100 billion in sales in its international division for the first time and its Sam's Club warehouse stores built membership to 47 million.

But its Walmart grocery and general merchandise stores saw traffic decline after the company changed its merchandise, reducing the number of products on its shelves as part of a campaign to declutter stores.

Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright said high fuel prices, competition and unemployment have also pressured sales.

Castro-Wright said the company is doing more to call attention to its price rollbacks to help build customer loyalty.

"In any economy, in any competition, your Walmart will always be the price leader," he said.

Sam's Club President and CEO Brian Cornell said the warehouse store division closed underperforming stores, increased membership income and said traffic was up in all four quarters last fiscal year.

"In this challenging economy, making saving simple is more important to our members than ever before," he said.

The meeting, held in a packed basketball arena on the University of Arkansas campus, had its usual celebrity appearances. Jamie Foxx performed hip hop and sang in his Ray Charles persona. He also acted as master of ceremonies.

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