CHICAGO – Wal-Mart gave consumers an early Christmas gift on Friday when the retail giant announced price cuts on nearly 100 electronics items.
The cuts, which include discounts on products such as plasma televisions, digital cameras and mobile phones, give Wal-Mart (WMT) a jump on holiday-season price wars.
The world's biggest retailer has vowed to aggressively cut prices this holiday season as it tries to lift anemic sales at its U.S. stores. In October, it cut prices on a selection of toys and games, which it said boosted sales volume.
The latest markdowns include a $500 cut on a Panasonic 42-inch plasma television to $1,294. Rival Best Buy Co. Inc. (BBY) offered a similar Panasonic 42-inch plasma television for $1,708.99 on its Web site.
Best Buy's stock was off more than 2 percent at $51.88 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange, after trading as high as $53.71 earlier in the session.
Rival Circuit City City Stores Inc. (CC) was down 1.4 percent at $25.75 on the NYSE, after hitting $26.48 earlier in the day.
Both stocks fell sharply after Wal-Mart's announcement.
Analysts contend that specialty chains can fend off Wal-Mart by offering better in-store service as well as in-home installation for sophisticated electronics.
Wal-Mart posted disappointing October sales and forecast flat November sales at U.S. stores open at least a year, in part because of poor demand for trendy apparel and disruption from store remodeling efforts.
Chief Executive Officer Lee Scott told analysts last week that he was not satisfied with Wal-Mart's poor sales growth, but expected demand to improve during the holiday season.
Wal-Mart's stock was down 93 cents, or 1.9 percent, at $47.36 on the NYSE.
Reuters contributed to this report.