Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

The greening of Wal-Mart


walmartsustainable Wal-Mart, which helped promote the adoption of those funny-looking “green” lightbulbs, is making more room in its Sam’s Club warehouse stores for environmentally friendly products — including a water-saving toilet that has one button for flushing liquids and another for flushing solids.

Employees at a Sam’s Club in the discounter’s home town in Bentonville, Arkansas, have emptied shelves of things like power tools to make way for a variety of green products. Similar efforts have taken place in Sam’s Clubs across the United States.

“Our members need and are looking for things that will help them mitigate their energy bills,” said Joel Heiligenthal, buyer of home efficiency products at the club store chain.

 Wal-Mart launched its own private-label compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) in 2007 and has been selling them in thousands of stores.  

Wider aisles? Cleaner stores? Must be Wal-Mart’s Project Impact


walmartelectronicsWal-Mart has a plan to keep shoppers coming into its discount stores once the economy improves and it is called ”Project Impact.”

While the retailer lost customers during the boom years as shoppers spent their dollars in the brighter, cleaner stores of its competitors, Wal-Mart is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Wal-Mart Marketside test feels economic hit


castrowrightNot too long ago, U.S. grocers were sprinting to be the first to get smaller stores up and running. Not any more.

Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright said the world’s biggest retailer is taking its time testing its convenience store-sized Marketside grocery stores, due to the economy.

Live blog from the Wal-Mart investor meeting

Reuters is filing live updates from the Wal-Mart annual meeting via Twitter. You can read the news inside the box below, or follow us on Twitter.

Check out video of Ben Stiller’s opening act, KISS star Gene Simmons, and more!

Wal-Mart on the move


bentonvilledistributioncenterMoving goods quickly and efficiently is key to Wal-Mart’s low-price strategy. On Thursday, Reuters got a first-hand look at the discounter’s Bentonville, Arkansas, distribution center that serves as a prototype for any new general merchandise distribution centers the company will add.

“Logistics is the lifeblood of Wal-Mart,” said Kevin Jones, a Wal-Mart regional vice president, who underscored that several of the world’s biggest retailer’s chief executives, including Mike Duke, Lee Scott and David Glass, led logistics operations earlier in their careers.

Meat worth getting into the car for


meatWal-Mart’s Sam’s Club is focused on winning the grocery business of cost-conscious shoppers, and Shawn Baldwin, the retailer’s vice president of fresh merchandising, knows what products are crucial to drawing shoppers into its stores.

“Most of the time where people decide to shop for food is determined by meat and produce. Both of those two we’ve spent the past couple of years really trying to upgrade the quality and that is something that resonates with everybody,” he told Reuters on the sideline of a media tour.

Welcome to Wal-Mart country


bentonvillewmtoneReuters is attending Wal-Mart’s annual meeting this week and will be sending news, tweets and images from the event via Shop Talk.

Our tour will include visits to the company’s distribution center, a Sam’s Club warehouse store and a Walmart supercenter.

Check Out Line: Miley and Max head to Wal-Mart


Check out Wal-Mart’s newest collaboration.

miley-cyrusThe discount giant is bringing out a new line of $20 and under clothing and accessories called Miley Cyrus & Max Azria.  Yes, that Max Azria, the one behind lines such as BCBG, is heading to the discount market.  Cyrus, best known for the hit ”Hannah Montana” show, is already among the top-selling recording artists at Wal-Mart, the retailer said.

The items will hit stores and Walmart’s website in early August.  Walmart will also be the title sponsor of Cyrus’ concert tour.  Tickets go on sale later this month.

Check Out Line: Consumers still bargain hunting

shopCheck out the expected weak May sales in the U.S. retail landscape.

Despite Memorial Day sales, warmer weather and deals such as $1 flip-flops, most U.S. retailers are expected to report declines in same-store sales in May as shoppers kept hunting for bargains in the recession.

Only eight of 30 retailers are expected to post growth in May sales at stores open at least a year when companies report results this week. Walgreen kicked things off with a 1 percent increase, but that was below what analysts had expected due to weaker-than-expected sales at its pharmacy counters.

Check Out Line: Wal-Mart flexing muscles amid recession

Check out the quarterly results at Wal-Mart.

The retail giant posted a flat profit in line with Wall Street’s expectations, but it gained market share in the recession as consumers sought to take advantage of the company’s low prices on necessities.  

Wal-Mart Chief Executive Mike Duke said the company remains cautiously optimistic about the timetable for the economic recovery, while Vice Chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright said a large part of its U.S. growth was coming from new customers.