Retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc is to cut its capital spending on new US stores and focus instead on remodels of existing stores, according to executives at the company's two-day analyst and investor meeting.

Speaking on Monday (27 October), Eduardo Castro-Wright, Walmart US president and chief executive officer, said remodels are "taking centre stage," with up to $1.7bn likely to be spent on improving stores next year. This compares with up to $1bn this year.

But capital spending will fall to between $5.8bn and $6.4bn in fiscal 2009, down from $9.1bn in 2008.

The retailer also hopes to boost sales by improving the merchandise in its stores.

In recent months it has added new lines under the l.e.i., Starter and Danskin Now brands and has even teamed up with rappers Master P and his son Romeo to launch its first apparel range from an African-American hip-hop supplier.

Wal-Mart has managed to weather the economic downturn as shoppers flock to its stores in search of bargains.

September sales at the discount retailer rose 5.8% to US$36.2bn, with same-store sales up 2% at its Walmart US division.

Significantly, there are also signs it is attracting more higher-income shoppers, Castro-Wright said, particularly those whose incomes are over $65,000 a year.