Wal-Mart reverses revenue decline in US business

Posted Oct. 12, 2011, at 8:47 p.m.

NEW YORK — Wal-Mart’s effort to reverse a two-year sales slump at its U.S. namesake stores is beginning to work.

The world’s largest retailer said Wednesday during a meeting with analysts that revenue at stores open at least a year rose three months in a row in July, August and September at its namesake stores in the United States after more than two years of quarterly declines. Wal-Mart had promised a quarterly increase by the end of this year, and Wednesday’s news indicates it could make good on that vow in the current quarter, which ends Oct. 28.

“We have had very positive momentum in the back half, especially in the U.S.,” said Charles Holley, executive vice president and chief financial officer. “We have more opportunities to grow more sales in the U.S. and around the world. But we will be deliberate.”

The weak U.S. job market and other economic woes have strained the core low-income shoppers at Wal-Mart’s namesake stores in the U.S., while the somewhat higher-income clientele of the company’s Sam’s Club warehouse stores has been more resilient. Wal-Mart’s namesake stores in the U.S. also stumbled in recent years because of mistakes the company made in merchandising and pricing.

The chain, based in Bentonville, Ark., now has restocked thousands of products it scrapped in an overzealous bid to clean up its stores. It’s also stopped using gimmicks such as slashing prices temporarily on select items and instead has returned to its “everyday low price” strategy, the bedrock philosophy of founder Sam Walton.