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Wal-Mart shoppers under more pressure

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Wal-Mart Stores CEO Mike Duke said rising gas prices are hurting the chain’s main customers, who are having an even harder time stretching their dollars to the next payday than they did a year ago.

"There’s no doubt that rising fuel prices are having an impact on our customers," said Duke at an event that was part of The Wall Street Journal’s executive breakfast series, according to the Associated Press. "There’s more pressure."

Duke said Walmart customers are consolidating shopping trips, though they are spending more on each excursion. At the same time, however, shoppers are also cutting back on discretionary items.

Duke also said Wal-Mart is seeing more noticeable drops in buying in the few days before the end of the month when money is tight and then a big spike in spending during the first few days of the month when some of its customers shoppers get paychecks or government assistance, according to the report.

Duke did not talk about specific plans for expansion in New York, but he said it’s a big opportunity for the company. He estimated last year New Yorkers spent $195 million at Walmart stores outside the city, based on credit-card receipts, the Associated Press said.

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Rite Aid’s April sales up

BY CSA STAFF

Camp Hill, Pa. — Rite Aid’s April sales rose thanks in part to bustling business at its pharmacies.

Rite Aid’s same-store sales rose 0.5% over the four weeks ended April 23, with pharmacy revenue up 1%. Sales of nonpharmacy fell 0.4%. Prescriptions filled at those stores rose 0.7%.

Total April sales fell 0.4% to $1.95 billion from $1.96 billion. The company had 4,705 stores as of April 23, 68 less than a year ago.

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Consumer confidence up despite rising gas prices

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK— Consumer confidence recovered somewhat in April, though the impact of rising gasoline prices is still evident, according to data released Tuesday by the Conference Board.

The confidence index hit 65.4 in April, from an upwardly revised 63.8 in March. The reading is still below the 72.0 mark of February.

“Consumers’ short-term outlook improved slightly, suggesting that the uncertainty expressed last month is easing,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board’s consumer research center. “Although confidence remains weak, consumers’ assessment of current conditions gained ground for the seventh straight month, a sign that the economic recovery continues.”

While expectations among consumers that business conditions will improve over the next six months declined to 18.8% from 20.8%, those anticipating business conditions to worsen decreased to 14.2% from 15.5%.

Consumers were mixed about labor market outlook for the next six months. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead declined to 17.5% from 19.6%, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined to 19% from 20.5%.

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