WalmartWalmart's (WMT) recent stock surge might be a good sign for the nation's biggest discounter, but it also highlights the economic fragility of America's low- and moderate-income consumers, its core shoppers.

On July 27, shares of the world's biggest retailer soared to a record high of $74.80.

Walmart's numbers are considered bellwethers for the retail industry. But on the other side of the equation, when Walmart sees its earnings improving, the theory goes, it's often because times are tougher for the nation's financially strapped.

Walmart's stock surge followed the retailer's healthy first-quarter earnings report. For the most recent quarter, which ended in April, the discounter posted its biggest comparable-store sales gains in three years.

Meanwhile, poverty in America is poised to reach its highest level since 1965, the Associated Press reports. The poverty rate is expected to reach 15.7%, up from 15.1% in 2010, according to a survey of economists, think tanks and academics.

Walmart has stepped up its pursuit of these very consumers -- many of whom have been flocking instead to dollar stores -- by lowering its prices further this year.

In March, Walmart detailed a $2 billion plan to "reinvest" in low prices, expressly in areas such as food and consumables, to drive more traffic to its 3,868 U.S. stores.

"We're investing in price leadership and giving savings to our customers," Mike Duke, CEO, told investors at Walmart's shareholders meeting last month.

Seems they're going to need it.

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August 05 2012 at 5:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

China-Mart. They're a business no kidding how much money thy have I could care less. But they don't pay and they monopolize. They also are known to cheat google the story in Mexico.

August 02 2012 at 9:01 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Walmart was the store that brought a full line of merchandise and competitive prices to rural America. In the past we had to pay high prices locally or burn time and gas traveling to large cities for the same items Walmart provides locally.

August 02 2012 at 6:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Walmart is a business. They are in business to make money, not lose money.They have just about everything a person needs and more. As far as them selling Chinese goods, they are not the only ones that are doing it. Just about every other store sells them. People are jealous that they are so rich, they earned it, nothing was given to them. I have shopped at Walmart for the last twenty years and hopefully another twenty!

August 01 2012 at 10:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Who is forcing people to shop at walmart?

August 01 2012 at 9:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would buy things made in America when I could find them.

August 01 2012 at 8:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All the hate toward Walmart.... and yet.... you all shop there. Interesting. I don't because there isn't one within a reasonable distance, but there is nothing wrong with shopping for the best price.

August 01 2012 at 8:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Isn't Walmart always lowering prices. They should give everything away for free and tape an extra dollar to every item so no one can beat them. Walmart sucks and has destroyed every good paying job in America and our government gives all their customers food stamps and welfare to make the Walton family even richer.
The American people are idiots!

August 01 2012 at 7:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Walmart sells products most middleclass peopple want and need at a good price. It employs hundreds of thousands of people. If they were as bad as most people say, then Walmart would have been out of business a long time ago. Give it time, Obama will shut them down if he is re-elected.

August 01 2012 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fresh foods - bananas, potatos, peppers are way overpriced at WM - and they're not any better than the cut rate food stores.

August 01 2012 at 7:08 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply