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BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. yesterday reported a higher-than-expected 3.1 percent increase in comparable-store sales at its U.S. units, including its namesake banners and Sam's Club, for the month of August. The retailer noted that its price leadership initiatives continued to drive traffic to its grocery business, with food categories remaining strong throughout the month.
In particular, Wal-Mart noted that the back-to-school season helped drive convenience items for school lunch boxes and snacks.
The average same-store sales forecast from analysts was 1.6 percent, according to Reuters Estimates, while Wal-Mart's own forecast was an increase between 1 percent and 2 percent.
This was Wal-Mart's biggest same-store sales gain since March, noted Reuters.
"We are pleased with our performance during August, because it reflects continuing momentum in grocery and electronics," said Eduardo Castro-Wright, president and c.e.o. of Wal-Mart Stores, in a statement.
Net sales for Wal-Mart Stores for the four-week period ended Aug. 31 were $18.2 million -- a 7.8 percent increase from the prior-year period.
Sales at Sam's Club increased 6.2 percent, to $3.34 million. Sales among small-business members continued to be strongest at the Sam's Club stores, according to Wal-Mart. Similar to the prior four-week period, sales in electronics, fresh food, and grocery were strengths.
For the 30 weeks ended Aug. 31, total company sales (including all U.S. stores and international) were $207.5 million, an 8.5 percent increase from the prior-year period.
For September, Wal-Mart forecast U.S. same-store sales to rise between 1 percent and 3 percent.
In other Wal-Mart news, Plantation, Fla.-based express delivery provider DHL has said it is continuing a seven-year relationship with Wal-Mart Stores through a three-year service contract. The new contract will reportedy add transport service for all specialty products at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores. The retailer also added DHL as a primary carrier for shipments between Wal-Mart stores, distribution centers, and suppliers.