retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• Walmart said that its Q4 earnings were $5.6 billion, up from $5.2 billion during the same period a year ago. Revenue rose 3.9 percent to $127.92 billion, with US same-store sales up one percent, less than the 1.7 percent increase that had been expected.

The New York Times reports that the earnings increase was "largely because of tax credits that lowered Wal-Mart’s corporate tax rate," and that "the recent payroll tax increase slowed purchases toward the end of the holiday season, and an Internal Revenue Service delay in processing tax returns hurt sales this month."

• Safeway reported Q4 net income of $244 million, up from $215.6 million during the same period a year ago. Revenue for the quarter increased 1.2 percent to $13.8 billion, with same-store sales up 0.8 percent.
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