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    Wal-Mart Reports Comps Up for January

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. yesterday reported a 4.7 percent gain in monthly same-store sales -- its best results so far for the fiscal year. The retailer said food sales have outpaced those of non-food products in its stores. Total sales were up 14 percent to $22.68 billion, which it attributed to a record 69 new stores and clubs opened during one month.

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. yesterday reported a 4.7 percent gain in monthly same-store sales -- its best results so far for the fiscal year. The retailer said food sales have outpaced those of non-food products in its stores. Total sales were up 14 percent to $22.68 billion, which it attributed to a record 69 new stores and clubs opened during one month.

    Same-store sales at Wal-Mart's namesake discount stores rose 4 percent, while Sam's Club same-store sales were up 8.2 percent.

    "During January, our associates achieved the highest monthly comparable stores sales increase in this fiscal year," said Tom Schoewe, e.v.p. and c.f.o., in a statement. "We believe the initiatives we are undertaking in merchandising and operations will improve the Wal-Mart customer experience. Our strategic plan is directed at maintaining Wal-Mart's tradition of price leadership and at becoming more relevant to a broader range of customers shopping our stores."

    In other Wal-Mart news, the world's largest retailer admitted it applied to the government of India to open an office to explore a possible entry into the retail market there, according to published reports.

    The office, which would be located in Bangalore, would be a separate entity, devoted to "market research and business development in relationship to the retail industry in India," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Beth Keck told reporters Thursday.

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