Wal-Mart pledges to keep customers in a better economy

Wal-Mart, which generated more than $400 billion in sales last year, has pulled shoppers away from rivals around the globe because its re-emphasis on low prices along with the right mix of merchandise and marketing have come together just as the economy went sour.

Even entertainer Ben Stiller, the host of the meeting, took the opportunity to take a jab at Target.

"You guys get up early," said Stiller, referring to the 7 a.m start of the meeting. "I hear they are still sleeping over at Target."

Still, after enjoying a 20% surge in its stock price in 2008, Wal-Mart has seen its shares fall 7.5% so far this year as Wall Street turns to retailers that sell more discretionary goods and could benefit when the economy improves. That has driven up share prices for such merchants as Macy's and Target.

Wal-Mart continues to move forward with an aggressive remodeling of its stores, which includes a better display of electronics and lower shelves to help shoppers navigate the store more easily. The company plans to remodel 500 of its more than 3,600 stores in the U.S. this year.

The company is also launching more exclusive launches in apparel and home furnishings that should help shoppers buy more than just detergent and groceries. This week, the company launched a new fashion line with teen star Cyrus and BCBG designer Max Azria for the critical back-to-school shopping season.

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