At the retailer’s annual analysts meeting yesterday, Wal-Mart Stores announced that it will slow the pace of US store openings and cut back on capital spending, aiming to boost sales by remodelling existing stores and improving the merchandise selection. According to Wal-Mart US President and Chief Executive Officer Eduardo Castro-Wright, the division plans to open 191 stores in the current fiscal year, which ends in early 2009, and 142 to 157 stores in the next fiscal year. The company opened 218 US stores in fiscal 2008. Wal-Mart also plans USD5.8 billion to USD6.4 billion in capital spending this fiscal year for its US division, down from USD9.1 billion last year. In fiscal 2010, it plans to spend USD6.3 billion to USD6.8 billion.
Castro-Wright added that that the retailer is attracting higher-income shoppers with discounts as the US economy reels from tighter credit, mounting job losses and falling home prices. Traffic at stores serving households with income above USD65,000 has been growing much faster than at the chain as a whole, "What that means is we are seeing a lot of new customers that did not consider Wal-Mart before, that consider Wal-Mart now." Chief Financial Officer Tom Schoewe is expected to outline expansion and capital spending plans for the entire business today.