The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

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March 21, 2014

Wal-Mart's new tool gives competitors prices

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

After sending queries to some of Wal-Mart's competitors, it wasn't clear on Friday afternoon whether they planned to follow the move.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart said it wants to see how competitors and customers respond to the program, but it doesn't have any plans to add online stores to the test.

Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer for Wal-Mart Store Inc.'s U.S. discount division told The Associated Press that shoppers are looking for "technological answers to saving them money and time."

Wal-Mart built its business on offering lowest prices on staples such as milk, bread and laundry detergent. But Wal-Mart's "every day low price" model is under attack from dollar stores and grocery stores like Kroger in addition to the Amazons of the world. On top of that, the retailer's primarily lower-income customers continue to cut back on spending during the economic recovery.

As a result, Wal-Mart's U.S. discount division recorded its fourth consecutive quarter of declines in revenue at stores opened at least a year, a critical yardstick for measuring a retailer's health. The discounter also has seen a decline in the number of shoppers going to its stores.

Wal-Mart has had a price matching strategy for several years. In 2011, it simplified the policy by making sure workers have the advertised prices of competitors on hand at the register, eliminating the need for shoppers to bring in an ad from a rival store. But unlike rivals like Target and Best Buy, Wal-Mart's policy does not include matching prices with online rivals.

Wal-Mart said the idea for Savings Catcher was born last year during a focus group. The idea instantly resonated with the group, the retailer said, and by last summer, Wal-Mart was testing it in four markets on an invitation-only basis. Last month, the company began rolling it out to the seven markets that also include Charlotte, N.C., Huntsville, Ala., Minneapolis, and Lexington, Ky.

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