Wal-Mart Stores Inc had a disappointing start to the holiday shopping season, despite an aggressive discount campaign. It now expects same-store sales this month to be lower than its already lackluster forecast.
The world's largest retailer said on Saturday that it expects sales in stores opened at least a year to edge down 0.1 percent -- slightly below its earlier projection of flat sales for the month -- compared with the same month last year. The results cover the four-week period through Friday, the first day of the holiday shopping season.
Wal-Mart and other major retailers are expected to report final same-store results for this month on Thursday.
Wal-Mart's disappointing performance this month is the latest in a string of anemic sales gains for the discount store, which is struggling to expand its appeal to higher-income shoppers.
According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, Wal-Mart has averaged a meager 2.4 percent gain in same-store sales from February to last month. That compares with a same-store sales gain of 4.8 percent for discount rival Target Corp.
Wal-Mart, which had downplayed its emphasis on discounting, stepped up its campaign last month, with price reductions on more than 100 toys. The move was followed by price cuts on consumer electronics and small appliances earlier this month.