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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. drew more shoppers to its namesake stores in the United States and its online sales soared 29 percent in its fiscal fourth quarter, which covers the crucial holiday shopping season. That's an indication that its efforts to lower prices and improve Web services are helping it compete better against Amazon.com Inc., which has built fierce loyalty with its Prime two-day shipping program.
Like other traditional retailers, Wal-Mart has been trying to improve its online operations to challenge Amazon, which accounted for 33 percent of total U.S. online sales last year, according to the research firm Euromonitor. Wal-Mart moved into second place last year ahead of EBay Inc., accounting for 7.8 percent of online sales, up from 7.4 percent in 2015. Still, Wal-Mart's online sales account for only about 3 percent of its global sales, or about $14bn. That compares with $94bn in global net product sales for Amazon.com.
The holiday shopping season was tough for many retailers, underscoring the changes they need to make. Macy's reported another quarter of sluggish sales, even as it has been scrambling for new ways to bring shoppers in and beef up online services. And Target Corp., one of Wal-Mart's main rivals, warned last month of weak sales for the holiday season.
“We believe Wal-Mart is continuing to generate critical and increasing traction online,” Moody's retail analyst Charlie O'Shea said.
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