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• Wal-Mart is launching a new series of television commercials using the theme, “Save More, Smile More.” The goal of the campaign, according to the company, “is to show how its wide assortment of quality merchandise brings value to the retailer's broad range of customers.” The commercials “feature a series of lifestyle scenes that show people using merchandise from Wal-Mart in their everyday activities. Merchandise categories represented include home decor, fitness equipment, food, health and beauty products, jewelry, and office supplies.”

• Press reports in Southern California say that Wal-Mart has decided not to pursue plans to open a supercenter in Northridge, despite the fact that zoning approvals already have been secured. However, the requirement that Wal-Mart pay for an extensive environmental impact statement compelled the retailer to pull the plug on the unit.

In addition, there has been considerable community opposition to the building of the Northridge Wal-Mart.

• The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that Wal-Mart is leading the way in going to India and “laying groundwork by building relationships with suppliers and distributors and wooing politicians and consumers. Last month, the U.S. company applied for government approval to open its first liaison office in India, which would permit it ‘to engage in undertaking research and business development activities.’”

The moves are keyed to the expectation that sometime this year the Indian government could open the nation to investment by foreign retailers. India’s economy is the eighth largest in the world, and is considered a potential goldmine for global retailing entities.

The Journal also notes that Wal-Mart “has another carrot to dangle in front of India: its huge buying power. Once it opens stores in a country, it is more likely to supply its international stores with that country's products. Even without stores in India, Wal-Mart is already a bigger consumer of Indian products than many countries.”
KC's View:
And one has to assume that it will become an ever-greater consumer of Indian products once the borders are opened.

The interesting thing is that such moves have the potential to increase criticism of Wal-Mart for its buying policies, especially since the retailer used to promote “buy America” at every turn.