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Adds Walmart U.S. CEO's comments, details on holiday
By Jessica Wohl
NEW YORK, Sept 11 U.S. consumers are ready to
shop this Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas as they "find a
way to navigate" through a continued difficult economy, Walmart
U.S. Chief Executive Bill Simon said on Wednesday.
While the 2 percent payroll tax increase and other concerns
cause people "to pause and think about what they're spending,"
Simon continues "to be amazed by the resilience of the
consumer," the head of the largest U.S. retailer said at the
Reuters Global Consumer and Retail Summit in New York.
Walmart U.S. is the largest unit of Wal-Mart Stores Inc
, the world's largest retailer.
Walmart U.S. stores are ready to kick off Thanksgiving
weekend sales "whenever we need to go," Simon said, hinting that
the first major offers may move earlier than last year's 8 p.m.
Thanksgiving evening start if necessary.
"We think it's important to be first and we're ready to go
any time," he said.
Walmart U.S. expects sales to improve in the second half of
the year after the chain posted declines in sales at stores open
at least a year - better known as same-store sales - in both the
first and second quarters.
Issues such as healthcare costs, Syria, higher payroll taxes
and gasoline prices weigh on the minds of Walmart's customers,
which may alter some of their spending in between holidays,
"I think customers are going to shop for Christmas and
Halloween, Thanksgiving, just like they always did, and they're
going to figure out in between how to make it up."
This holiday season, shoppers are likely to see intense
price competition in the toy aisles of Walmart and other
retailers, he said. However, he does not expect much discounting
on "hot electronics" such as the new XBox One by Microsoft Corp
and Sony Corp's Playstation 4.
Walmart U.S. has already seen "pretty good" presales of both
of those gaming systems, Simon said. This is the first holiday
season in several years with highly anticipated gaming systems
coming to the market. Electronics retailers from Walmart to Best
Buy Co Inc are eager for hot gifts after items such as
3D televisions were disappointments.
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(Additional reporting by Dhanya Skariachan and Phil Wahba in
New York; editing by Matthew Lewis)