Wal-Mart to Cut Prices on 20,000 Items to Spur Holiday Sales

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., working to reverse six straight quarters of stagnant U.S. sales, will cut prices on more than 20,000 items tomorrow to get a jump on competitors before the holiday season.

To improve customer service, the world’s largest retailer plans to open more checkout lines during peak shopping times, executives said on a conference call yesterday. Wal-Mart is also considering matching in-store prices with online competitors if a customer asks, they said.

Wal-Mart is entering a crucial holiday season under Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon, who took the helm in February. The chain cut its full-year sales forecast this month as McMillon acknowledged it needed to do a better job stocking shelves and staffing stores, two staples of retail.

The company provided the same kinds of promotions, which it calls “rollbacks,” last year after Halloween. The discounting will last 90 days and begin with price cuts focused on electronics and toys.

Wal-Mart will also reduce online prices on Nov. 3 for a 24-hour period, featuring what it described as 15 deals that are comparable to the ones found on Black Friday. These include a Crayola Paint Maker for $12, reduced from $19. A 48-inch Sony Corp. television will be reduced more than 20 percent to $348. Mattel Inc.’s Barbie Dreamhouse will sell for $120, down from about $149.

The company is testing a plan to match online competitors’ prices at stores in Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas; Phoenix; and northwest Arkansas. Individual store managers are already allowed to match online prices if they want, the company said.

Shares of the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company rose 0.2 percent to $76.27 at the close in New York. They have dropped 3.1 percent this year.

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