Wal-Mart expands electronics departments, takes on Best Buy; to carry Palm Pre ‘soon’

“Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is revamping the electronics departments in its more than 3,500 U.S. stores this week, ramping up an aggressive battle with Best Buy Co. and Amazon.com to seize customers up for grabs due to the demise of Circuit City Stores Inc.,” Miguel Bustillo reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“Wal-Mart’s roomier and more interactive electronics displays begin arriving in stores Monday, showcasing the latest mobile phones and portable computers, and including standalone sections for popular brands such as Nintendo Co. and Apple Inc.,” Bustillo reports.

“Wal-Mart fought for years to be taken seriously by electronics makers that wanted to cultivate a top-of-the-line image,” Bustillo reports. “Apple, for instance, didn’t sell its music players at Wal-Mart until it released the inexpensive iPod Shuffle, and released the iPhone at Wal-Mart only after it had been selling through Best Buy.”

“Wal-Mart executives said their stores will soon carry Palm Inc.’s Pre smart phone,” Bustillo reports.

“To be sure, Best Buy retains a lead in U.S. consumer electronics retailing with 22% of the total market, based on market-research estimates from Stevenson Co.,” Bustillo reports. “But Wal-Mart has been quickly gaining. Circuit City filed for bankruptcy last November and closed its stores in March. Its closing left about $11.1 billion in annual revenue up for grabs, estimated Deutsche Bank.”

“As Wal-Mart senses an opening, it is expanding its mobile-phone assortment and adding an island where shoppers can pick up and try out laptops and netbooks,” Bustillo reports.

Full article here.

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