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Report: Walmart outlines strategic initiatives in New York

BY Gina Acosta

NEW YORK — Walmart plans to improve the customer experience, invest in its grocery business, and put pressure on suppliers to drive down prices, according to a Bloomberg report.
 
During an update to analysts and investors in New York on Wednesday, Greg Foran, head of Walmart’s U.S. business, said the company has launched several projects aimed at re-establishing price gaps over its rivals, including looking at how it works with its suppliers. "While we have pockets of leadership, in more competitive markets our gap is too small. And against some competitors we are beaten," Foran said.
 
Foran also said that investments in lower prices would be balanced against the need to invest in customer service. The company is focusing on improving the experience of customers and workers, as well as expanding store pickup and the grocery business, among other long-term plans.
 
He said improvements would be implemented so that "by the time we hit holiday season our stores are clean, tidy, well-merchandised and run by engaged associates. Today in the main we are not."
 
Read the Bloomberg report by clicking here. Read the transcript from the meeting by clicking here.
 
In other Walmart news on Wednesday, Arkansas native and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon took a firm stance against a “religious freedom” measure passed by the Arkansas House on Tuesday. The bill (HB1228) is similar to the one that has kicked up a firestorm in Indiana.
 
“Today’s passage of HB1228 threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold. For these reasons, we are asking Governor Hutchinson to veto this legislation,” McMillon wrote in a statement released on the retailer’s Twitter account.
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Rite Aid continues positive momentum with 4.3% same-store sales lift in March

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Shares of Rite Aid were up slightly Thursday morning by 3% to more than $8.85 in early morning trading, following the company's report of March results. 
 
For the four weeks ended March 28, overall same-store sales increased 4.3%, with a front-end same-store sales increase of 2.5% and pharmacy same-store sales increase of 5.1%. Pharmacy same-store sales results included an approximate 167 basis points negative impact from new generic introductions. 
 
Prescription count at comparable stores increased 2.5% over the prior-year period.
 
Total drug store sales for the four-week period increased 4.1% to $2 billion. Prescription sales accounted for 69.9% of drug store sales, and third party prescription sales represented 97.7% of pharmacy sales.
 
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Cub Foods orders disability-friendly Caroline’s Cart for all Minnesota stores

BY Michael Johnsen

 
 
STILLWATER, Minn. – Cub Foods, the first grocer in the Twin Cities to offer Caroline's Cart to customers with special needs children, on Wednesday announced it is bringing the one-of-a-kind customized shopping carts to all 76 Cub stores in Minnesota, as well as one store in Freeport, Ill. The new carts began arriving at stores in late March and are expected to be available at all Cub Foods locations by the end of April.
 
Designed specifically for older children and adults with disabilities, Caroline's Cart combines the functionality of a wheelchair with a traditional shopping cart to make the in-store experience simpler, safer and more inclusive by eliminating the difficult task of maneuvering a wheelchair and grocery cart at the same time.
 
"Since our founding, it has been our goal to provide the best possible shopping experience to all of our customers," stated Mike Stigers, president at Cub Foods. "The positive response of shoppers who use Caroline's Cart led directly to our decision to expand to all Cub stores. We're proud to have the opportunity to make it easier for customers to include family members with special needs in their regular shopping trips."
 
"When I first designed Caroline's Cart, we set out on a mission to make it available to the families of millions of children with special needs throughout the United States — families just like ours," commented Drew Ann Long, Caroline's Cart designer. "It warms my heart to know that by offering Caroline's Cart at all locations, Cub Foods is providing families of those with special needs a convenient opportunity to enjoy the freedom of shopping together."
 
Cub Foods first introduced Caroline's Cart to the Twin Cities metro area at its Maple Grove store as part of a pilot program in 2014. 
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