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Wal-Mart Resumes Aggressive Price Stance In CE

Bentonville, Ark. – Wal-Mart has reduced Panasonic’s 42W-inch HD plasma TV from its current street price of $1,800 to $1,294 in an opening salvo of holiday discounts.

The TV, model TH-42PX6U, is one of nearly 100 CE products including digital cameras and mobile handsets that Wal-Mart has earmarked for promotional fodder as the retailer returns to its low-price positioning.

Other “rolled back” items include Polaroid’s 37W-inch LCD HDTV (to $997 from $1,297) and an RCA-branded 32W-inch LCD HDTV (to $847 from $997).

The price reductions, announced last Friday, represent a return to Wal-Mart’s discount roots after the world’s largest retailer had attempted to reposition itself with better goods and higher price points. The effort, begun last year, alienated its core lower-income customer base and failed to invigorate the company’s sales or stock price.

The CE rollbacks were the second set in a series of planned price cuts on thousands of key holiday goods, Wal-Mart said, and followed a repositioning last month in toys.

“Wal-Mart recognizes that mom wants to get the perfect gift for the best value,” said Gary Severson, Wal-Mart’s senior VP and general merchandise manager for electronics. “We’ve lowered prices so that families can afford to get and give more of the best brands and technology in electronics this season.”

Other new CE price points include:

  • Madden 2007, $37.88
  • Kodak C875 digital camera, $249.64
  • Cingular C139 prepaid phone, $19.97
  • Panasonic mini DV camcorder, $268.76
  • Lexmark z600 printer, $134.44
  • Net 10 1600 prepaid phone, $39.98

Severson added that Wal-Mart would also sell iPods, HDTVs and Sony’s PS3 GameSystem at the “best value.”

David Strasser, a retail analyst with Bank of America Equity Research, found that Wal-Mart’s TV price cuts were more significant in larger screen sizes when compared to pricing at Best Buy and Circuit City. He also forecasted “increasingly aggressive promotions into the holidays” given the choppy business conditions and big inventory positions taken by Wal-Mart and Best Buy.