17 Nov 2012

Walmart sales below expectations

2:53 pm on 17 November 2012

Walmart, the world's biggest retailer, says its customers are feeling the pinch, after sales fell short of market expectations.

Sales at stores open more than a year rose 1.5% in the three months to October compared to a year earlier. Sales in Japan fell 1.8%, as did patronage at its Chinese stores, by 7.6%.

Despite this, the Walmart's profits rose 9% to $US3.6 billion.

Net sales in the three months to 31 October rose 3.4% from a year earlier to $US113 billion.

It was Walmart's fifth consecutive quarter of growing sales after a decline that lasted more than two years.

But its shares fell more than 4% in morning trading on Wall Street afterwards.

The company has also broadened an internal inquiry into possible payments of bribes by employees.

In April, the New York Times said Walmart paid $US24 million in bribes to Mexican officials in order to win business, in contravention of US laws.

Walmart says it's expanded its investigation from Mexico, to include Brazil, India and China, and has spent over $US35 million complying with the rules in the last 18 months.