Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Big gains for Big Lots and Wal-Mart


sell.jpgLow price retailers appear to be in. The top performing stock in the first quarter among components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, through Friday, was Wal-Mart, with a 9.66 percent gain — one of only five stocks up in the index.

And in a much wider group, Big Lots is the big winner in the S&P 500 with a 40.25 percent gain in through Friday. The shares of the company, which specializes in  the sale of excess inventory, posted a 33 percent increase in March alone.

As the U.S. economy struggles, lower-priced retailers like Wal-Mart and Big Lots have benefited from consumers trading down.

Warehouse clubs like Costco and BJ’s have also been helped by customers looking for bargains on food and fuel.