NEW YORK - Seeking to reverse seven straight quarters of same-store-sales declines at its U.S. namesake chain, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Monday that it's expanding the number of items on its shelves, launching TV advertising and working with its suppliers to lower costs.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant, which was hurt by a previous strategy to narrow its product assortment, said it’s adding about 8,500 items, or 11 percent, to an average store.
Fishing supplies, crafts and fabric are among items being added back to store shelves, Walmart U.S. Chief Merchandising Officer Duncan Mac Naughton told reporters, adding that the company is tailoring some merchandise to local demand, such as selling ice-fishing tools in markets such as Minnesota.
To make room for more items, Walmart U.S. is raising the height of its shelves and bringing back products in the center of busy aisles, which the company said has boosted comparable sales. Previously, the retailer had embarked on a remodeling campaign to lower shelf heights and de-clutter its aisles to make its stores more appealing to higher-income shoppers.
The company is now pitching its stores as a one-stop shop at a time when its low-income shoppers are facing rising prices for gasoline, food and possibly apparel, analysts said.
Wal-Mart also is refocusing on its everyday low-price strategy after a previous move to cut prices temporarily on some items didn’t fare as well as expected.
As part of the low-price moves, the retailer said its store managers and product buyers will check on competitors’ prices more often. It also said it will match a lower advertised price even if customers don’t bring in a competitor’s advertisement, and it is training employees to make sure the simplified policy is implemented consistently across all stores.
Workers, for instance, engage in role-playing and watch videos as part of their training to better assist customers, Mac Naughton told MarketWatch.
Walmart U.S. is launching a national TV campaign to tout its ad-match guarantee and will install in-store signs nationwide in May. Products that have returned to shelves will be placed next to signs that read, “It’s back.”
About 80 percent of products such as pasta, beverages and snacks have been added to its dry grocery aisles, and that will continue, the company said. In the next few months, the company plans to add to its fresh grocery and consumables aisles, including such items as paper towels, toilet paper and laundry detergent.