Walmart sees first sales decline in four decades

February 19, 2010

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, has seen sales at its U.S. Walmart stores fall for the first time, as price-cutting competitors lure away bargain-hunters.

The 0.5 percent sales decline reported Thursday covered the three months ending Jan. 31. It was the first year-over-year quarterly decline since Wal-Mart went public in 1969. And it was a remarkable stumble for an institution revered and reviled for its relentless expansion and economic power.

Overall, Wal-Mart's overseas growth and a concerted cost-cutting campaign pushed profit up 22 percent in the fourth quarter. Wal-Mart earned $4.63 billion, or $1.21 per share, up from $3.8 billion, or 96 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

- Associated Press

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