Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores has committed to reduce operating expenses over the next five years and will freeze capital spending at current levels for the next fiscal year.

At the company’s US investor community conference yesterday (12 October), the company announced that its US business had delivered three consecutive months of positive same-store sales, which it said remained its first growth priority.

Wal-Mart also committed to “disciplined, more productive capital spending”, announcing that capital spending for the current year to 31 January 2012 would be US$13-14bn, and would remain in that range in fiscal 2013, when sales growth of 5-7% is predicted.

“We continue to prioritise growth, leverage and returns in our commitment to increase shareholder value,” said Wal-Mart president and CEO Mike Duke.

“We will grow comparable store sales across our three operating segments, and we will leverage innovation, systems and processes to improve our overall productivity.”

Meanwhile, CFO Charles Holley said the company would reduce operating expenses as a percentage of sales by more than 100 basis points over the next five years.

He added: “This will allow Wal-Mart US to invest in price and widen the price gap between our competitors and us. It also will enable our International segment to improve operating margins in the emerging markets.”