Wal-Mart Warehouse Clearance, Another Threat to Competition

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Because of the size of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), its inventories have to be much larger than any other brick-and-mortar retailer in America. When it slashes prices for a national warehouse clearance sale, its competition has reason to be anxious. Wal-Mart just began one of these “events” online, and it has cut prices more than half on some items.

As usual, Wal-Mart further leverages its size and nearly 5,000 locations to attract buyers. Many of the items with sharp price cuts come with free two-day shipping. Many others can be picked up in stores for free.

The clearance includes an unusually broad array of items. These include toys, sports and outdoor items, furniture, home improvement products, patio furniture, auto products, and consumer electronics. Items for summer living are high on the list.

Most of the items on sale are relatively inexpensive. Wal-Mart is selling a Hunter 52″ Sea Air Textured Ceiling Fan for $77.59, down from its initial price of $165. Wal-Mart also offers a 12-oz bottle of Deter Outdoor Soap for $4.45. However, it is also selling high-end PCs, which include a Sony 11.6″ VAIO Duo Laptop PC with Intel Core i7-3537U Processor, a touch screen, a 256 GB SSD and Windows 8, which has been refurbished, for $670.03.

For some reason Wal-Mart lists a huge number of items that have been sold out. Perhaps it wants potential customers to know that the clearance is really a clearance and time is of the essence.

Wal-Mart’s clearances not alone makes use of the retailer’s huge inventory. Wal-Mart is by most measures the second largest e-commerce company in the United States after Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN). And it is struggling to gain ground on its rival. Wal-Mart needs any advantage it can get.