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CNN reports on Walmart’s efforts to re-establish its “buy American” roots, which was a major theme when the company was started by Sam Walton a half-century ago, and was resurrected recently when CEO Mike Duke said publicly that a majority of the retailer’s products are now made in the USA.

To a great extent, the story suggests, the shift is more practical than philosophical, and “is more likely a matter of the mix of the products it's selling and how Americans are shopping, industry observers say, than a sign that it's returning to its patriotic roots.

“Lately, Wal-Mart shoppers are focused on buying basics like groceries, which often come from the U.S. They're not really spending on other goods, like foreign-made electronics and clothes the discounter used to be known for ... It's no longer the destination of choice for cheap T-shirts and televisions. It's now mainly a huge supermarket where shoppers are loading up on fruits, vegetables and household products produced in the U.S.

“Wal Mart says 54% of its total sales currently come from groceries and household goods such as detergent and paper towels. And most of those goods are American-made, said Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar.”

Burt Flickinger, managing director of retail consulting firm Strategic Resource Group, expresses a certain skepticism that Walmart has made any sort of concerted philosophical shift:

"Low price is paramount to Wal-Mart, especially now that it is under immense pressure to improve profits. Wal-Mart is still aggressively buying low-priced foreign goods," he tells CNN.
KC's View:
I try never to disagree with Burt Flickinger, and this case is no exception. It seems unlikely that at this moment in time, Walmart would do anything - including sourcing products domestically rather than abroad - that would raise prices.

The larger story, which speaks to the shift in Walmart’s product offerings, is that the company may be changing in profound ways, especially in terms of format focus. Whether this will work is anybody’s guess.