Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s low-cost strategy during the holidays both helped and hurt its performance in the fourth quarter: The world's largest retailer reported an almost 15 percent decline in profit, but its namesake U.S. business continued to draw in more shoppers.
During the period, Wal-Mart guaranteed shoppers it would give them the lowest price on a given item, no matter when they bought it during the holiday season. That resulted in its first gain in customer counts in several years.
But those efforts also came at a cost. The company said that operating income growth for the quarter was slower than the rate of sales for Wal-Mart's U.S. business as gross profit margin declined.