Wal-Mart to Target Affluent Shoppers

March 23, 2006

Wal-Mart to Target Affluent Shoppers

Wal-Mart, the massive retail chain that has already cornered the market on mass merchandise at low prices, is now testing the waters with higher-end goods designed to attract upscale shoppers, USA Today reports.

This week the retail giant opened a test store in Plano, Texas, that features high-priced electronics, a huge selection of wine at prices up to $500, microbrewed beers, gourmet foods and a wider offering of fine jewelry. The Plano Wal-Mart even offers a sushi bar, an espresso bar and free wireless Internet service, according to the newspaper.

Now that 50% of American families shopping at Wal-Mart once a week, retail analysts say the chain has essentially reached its limit with potential new middle-class customers and is now looking for a new, lucrative market. The store is following in the footsteps of competitor Target with a similar strategy of offering better-designed goods and a more elite shopping experience. The chain is struggling to overcome a perception among many shoppers that Wal-Mart's merchandise is lower-quality, retail analysts say.

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