Wal-Mart expects apparel sales to improve in the back half of the year

Wal-Mart expects apparel sales to improve in the back half of the year

Wal-Mart is hoping to turnaround its US apparel performance, saying today (16 August) that it is "confident" it will see ongoing improvement in apparel sales in the second-half of the year.

The statements by the CEO and president of the retailer's US division, Bill Simon, came as the retailer reported the ninth consecutive quarter of same-store sales declines in its US stores.

Simon said that during the second-quarter, comparable-apparel sales declined in the "mid single-digits". The declines included an "approximately 300 basis point improvement from the first-quarter", he added.

Simon attributed the improvements to "ongoing business initiatives, especially in our basic apparel offering, and improvement in sales of summer merchandise tied to the warm weather".

Over the period, men's, ladies' and baby apparel delivered the best comparable results for the period, while children's apparel, shoes and intimate departments remained "soft".

Looking to the back half of the year, Simon said the retailer is "well-positioned to gain sales and share for the important back-to-school season" and that it is expanding its offerings in important categories to regain customers.

In the middle of July, the Wal-Mart announced its revitalised back-to-school strategy, saying that it will offer back-to-school items in one place and categorised by school age group so that families can " quickly and easily shop supplies appropriate for their child's grade".

The company is also offering an ad match policy where it plans to match any local competitor's advertised price for the same product.

"We know our customers need to stretch their dollars as far as they can," said Wal-Mart chief merchandising officer Duncan Mac Naughton in July. "We're making it even easier and more affordable for them this back-to-school season with low prices on more items along with our ad match policy and a better shopping experience."

Shares in Wal-Mart rose in early trading today and were up 3.44% to US$51.7 a share at 9:34 ET today.