Wal-Mart Expands Alcohol Sales

What's unclear from this story is whether this is purely something the firm is doing in Missouri or something it's doing nationally. Perhaps it's already been selling alcohol more broadly in other parts of the country. It's interesting nonetheless.

Now, for the first time, the corporation is selling alcohol at its general merchandise stores in Missouri. Experts believe the move is designed to drive up foot traffic and draw more customers away from grocery stores as the retail market slumps.

Alcoholic beverages have been arriving at stores throughout the state over the last few weeks, according to a Wal-Mart spokesman. Several discount stores in the Metro East area also began offering beer and wine in January, he said. Alcohol is available at stores where liquor sales are legal, and not all discount stores have both beer and wine.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer said it was responding to customer demand.

"The mix of merchandise in our stores is reviewed frequently to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers," Trent Weller, merchandise manager for the corporation, said in an e-mailed statement. "Over the years, our general merchandise stores have added more and more grocery items, and we recently began adding beer and wine in areas where there is customer demand and licensing laws allow the change."

Industry experts said the move is part of a bigger picture. Because competition for grocery shoppers' dollars is fierce, retailers across a broad range are trying to find food and beverage items to lure consumers.

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