Wal-Mart's boss to savings-conscious shoppers: We're worth the drive

Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) has spent years painting itself as a greener big box store. Now it's got a new pitch: We're so cheap, you won't mind burning more gas to get here.

In today's quarterly earnings conference, Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke shared his experience with a random consumer. Her income is down 40 percent, she's scrimping and having to say no to her three children, and she didn't shop at Wal-Mart because it was a farther drive than other stores.
Yet once she walked the aisles with the CEO, she found she saved so much it made up for the extra gas. That's why Wal-Mart is still bringing in new customers in this economy, Duke said.

Indeed, Wal-Mart squeezed flat earnings in the second quarter, despite lower sales at some stores -- a better result than most retailers would expect -- and forecast that the next quarter's sales will be flat to up a couple of ticks.

But in the same phone conference, the world's biggest retailer touted the progress of its sustainability initiatives. Wal-Mart is trying to cut back its trucks' idling to burn less gas, and putting compact fluorescent bulbs in every American home -- yet it wants to encourage people to drive more? Now, what kind of corporate citizen is that?
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