Wal-Mart’s Prices Rise to Highest in Almost Two Years

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s prices rose in September to the highest level in at least 21 months, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co., as the world’s largest retailer scaled back discounts from earlier this year.

The cost of a 31-item basket of goods at a Wal-Mart in Virginia was $95.75, a 2.7 percent increase from August and a 5 percent gain from the start of 2010, analyst Charles Grom said today in a report. The price is the most since the New York- based analyst began the survey in January 2009.

Prices for produce climbed as Wal-Mart offered almost no discounts on food last month, Grom said. Price cuts on items such as cereal and ketchup failed to attract as many consumers as Wal-Mart anticipated, dragging down sales in the latest quarter, U.S. stores chief William Simon said last month.

Produce accounted for 7 of the 31 items in the basket, with prices 10 percent higher in September than the previous month. Prices for dairy products rose 2 percent, and meat was unchanged.

Wal-Mart rose 17 cents to $53.52 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares are little changed this year.

Wal-Mart’s prices came in below a similar basket of goods bought at stores operated by Kroger Co. and Safeway Inc. The gap between Wal-Mart and the traditional grocers narrowed in September, the report showed.

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