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Wal-Mart looks to shake winter with sales push

March 20, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is hoping to shake off the winter sales doldrums with its biggest spring sales push ever.

The world’s largest retailer is discounting more than 60 outdoor essentials from lawn mowers to mulch by 30 percent to 50 percent in a push that aims to take business from competitors like Home Depot Inc. and Lowe’s Cos.

The sale starts Friday and will run through March 29. Items include a seven piece-Mainstays patio furniture set for $298, $15 stacking sling chairs, $88 Kingsford charcoal grills and $144 lawnmowers from brands like Murray and Snapper.

Shoppers can also find five bags of Miracle-Gro garden soil for $10 and bags of mulch for $1.97 each. The event will be advertised in a 12-page Sunday circular.

Wal-Mart, based in Arkansas, says the sale was planned last summer as executives received forecasts that the winter was going to be especially harsh. But the company made changes since then because the winter was even more severe than expected.

Wal-Mart is counting on an extra boost in sales from items like garden soil as shoppers prepare to restore their gardens and outdoor living spaces hurt by a series of winter storms.

Wal-Mart and other retailers have seen their sales chilled by storms that caused them to close hundreds of stores and kept shoppers at home. The discounter said in February that during the height of winter storms, it had more than 200 stores closed.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Michelle Gloeckler, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president of home, described the sales event as offering Black Friday-like prices.

“I love the fact that we had a rough winter because people are going to be so ready,” she said. She noted that Wal-Mart dramatically increased the quantities of items such as mulch and other outdoor products, in anticipation of increased customer demand. She declined to offer figures.

Wal-Mart’s lawn and garden offerings, including plants, are also tailored to the climates of each region. For example, customers in southern markets such as Dallas and Atlanta will find warmer-season plants including petunias and marigolds. Shoppers in northern markets like Chicago and New York will find cold-tolerant varieties such as pansies and snapdragons.


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