Wal-Mart to expand Blu-ray, HD offerings

Retail giant seeks larger share of consumer electronics

SAN FRANCISCO -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Tuesday it is expanding its assortment of hot electronics, such as Blu-ray DVD players and high-definition TVs, and freshening the look of its 3,500 U.S. electronics departments as the retailer seeks to grab market share.

In its U.S. discount stores, Wal-Mart is increasing its selection of wireless products 30%, adding more cellular and smartphone merchandise. It is also adding more Blu-ray players and movies, and will be selling a $198 Philips Blu-ray Disc Player in most stores this week.

In addition, Wal-Mart is adding a new display center that will allow customers to try out its various laptop brands.

"We've made a number of significant changes in the last three years to raise the bar in our offerings and gain consumer confidence and trust as an electronics destination," said Gary Severson, senior vice president of home entertainment, in a statement, "and we have every intention of keeping that pace with continued improvements in service and assortment."

While many U.S. electronics retailers have cut staff, closed stores or gone out of business, Walmart has gained market share by expanding its selection of name-brand consumer electronics while also trying to beat the competition on price.

It is now stepping up its efforts to appeal to shoppers as other consumer electronics retailers, including Amazon.com and Best Buy, try to win the business of customers who used to shop Circuit City, which closed earlier this year.