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Wal-Mart, Price Clubs Make Bank on Slowdown

A Reuters article on Thursday about Wal-Mart "whittling down" its merchandise selection doesn't mention food. Mostly, it's about the chain trying to make its stores a bit more attractive, less cluttered and less daunting to shoppers to better compete in many markets with rival Target.

But with prices or perishables soaring as they are, it could be that Wal-Mart is also making room to sell more food â€" even if that wasn't the original plan. Unlike a lot of grocers, Wal-Mart -- along with price clubs such as BJ's Wholesale Club and Costco -- are doing especially well in the downturn.

The Wall Street Journal's Marketbeat blog noted on Thursday that while other product categories are seeing "mixed results" at price clubs, "consumables" (which also includes gasoline) have seen a 3.9 percent increase in sales. And sales of perishable items at BJ's Wholesale Club are up by 11 percent.

Wal-Mart, meanwhile, expects total sales to rise by 2 to 4 percent in June.

Update: Lisa Everitt has more on Costco's (so far) winning strategy over at BNET Retail.

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