retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• Walmart reportedly is testing yet another new format – Mas Club, a Hispanic version of its Sam’s Club membership warehouse stores. The first Mas Club is slated to open in Houston during the first half of 2009.

According to the Reuters story, “Sam's Club said it is designing new signs and a Mas Club logo. It also said that existing Sam's Club members who want to shop at Mas Club will need to purchase a separate membership.”

"Our objective is to create an additional shopping choice that provides currently unavailable value for families, restaurant owners, convenience stores and more," Doug McMillon, president and chief executive of Sam's Club, said in a prepared statement.

• The Hartford Courant reports that Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has ordered Walmart to bring itself into compliance with state tax laws, saying that the retailer has been denying consumers a refund of state taxes when they make returns and has been charging state sales tax on even exchanges.

• The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that Walmart is cutting the price of some of its MP3 downloads, charging just 74 cents for Top 20 songs…a marked financial advantage over the 99 cents charged on Apple’s iTunes site.

KC's View: