Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Tuesday it is cutting prices on thousands of items by 10 percent to 30 percent this week to win sales from cash-strapped shoppers ahead of the Super Bowl.
A Wal-Mart spokeswoman did not have an exact figure on the number of items included in the price cuts but said the world’s largest retailer was reducing prices on groceries, popular electronics and other items that shoppers might buy before the Super Bowl football championship game on Sunday.
Wal-Mart typically announces such widespread price cuts during the ultra-competitive holiday shopping season.
But with 2008 U.S. retail sales forecast to rise at the slowest pace in six years, retailers are turning to promotions to lure shoppers into their stores to spend their limited budgets.
Ahead of the Super Bowl weekend, Best Buy Co Inc’s Web site is advertising no interest for three years on all Samsung flat panel TVs $999 and up, while in a similar move, Circuit City Stores Inc is offering no interest for 36 months on TVs $999 and higher.
Wal-Mart said it is charging no interest for 18 months on purchases of $250 or more with a Wal-Mart credit card.
“We see Wal-Mart adopting a Black Friday mentality into Super Bowl weekend,” wrote Stifel Nicolaus analyst David Schick, comparing Wal-Mart’s most recent price cuts to measures retailers roll out during the highly promotional Thanksgiving weekend, which is seen as the official start of the holiday shopping season.
Despite the promotions, consumers are showing a reluctance to spend.
Holiday sales rose at their slowest pace in five years, and U.S. chain store sales fell 1.2 percent for the week ended January 26, compared with the prior week, the International Council of Shopping Centers Inc and UBS Securities LLC said on Tuesday.
“The consumer is not motivated to shop and spend this January — aside from necessities — and the sales performance has reflected just that,” Michael Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist, said in a statement.
Necessities are helping to drive sales at Wal-Mart. Its December sales at U.S. stores open at least a year rose 2.4 percent, beating Wall Street’s forecast for a 2.1 percent gain, as shoppers loaded up on cheap grocery and pharmacy items.
In contrast, December sales at smaller rival Target Corp inched up 0.6 percent, adjusted for a calendar shift. But its same-store sales fell 5 percent not adjusting for the shift, as shoppers pulled back on discretionary purchases.
As part of its latest price cuts, Wal-Mart said it was offering a Vizio 32-inch LCD television for $597; two 12-inch DiGiorno pizzas for $9, and two bags of Doritos for $6.