Walmart U.S. offers gasoline discount to woo shoppers

NEW YORK Mon Apr 1, 2013 11:19pm IST

A man stands on a skateboard outside a Wal-Mart store in Williston, North Dakota March 13, 2013. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/Files

A man stands on a skateboard outside a Wal-Mart store in Williston, North Dakota March 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton/Files

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Walmart is cutting gasoline prices by up to 15 cents a gallon for drivers in 21 U.S. states who pay with its cards in an attempt to woo shoppers grappling with high prices at the pump.

The discount will be 15 cents a gallon for customers paying with a Walmart MoneyCard or credit card from April 1 through July 7, and 10 cents a gallon for those using a Wal-Mart gift card, Wal-Mart Stores Inc(WMT.N) said in a statement on Monday.

U.S. sales have slowed in 2013 at the world's biggest retailer as higher gasoline prices have pinched customers, along with higher U.S. payroll taxes and delayed income tax refunds.

An online poll of 1,538 people conducted in March by Reuters/Ipsos showed two-thirds of adults were cutting their monthly spending, with high gasoline prices cited as one of the top reasons.

"I am constantly hearing that gas prices are making it tough for our customers to balance their budgets," Gisel Ruiz, chief operating officer for Walmart U.S., said. "For every cent gas prices climb, consumers have $1 billion less to spend."

When gasoline prices rise, shoppers often make fewer trips to stores and try to buy more on each visit.

The latest "gas rollback," at more than 1,000 Walmart store-based gasoline stations run by the retailer and Murphy USA, follows a similar 2012 program that ran from August 31 through December 24. Throughout the year, Wal-Mart offers smaller gasoline discounts to card holders.

Other retailers have offered lower-priced gasoline in the past. Last year, Kroger Co (KR.N), the country's largest traditional grocer, extended its summer gasoline discount promotion through the end of the year in 25 states after customers said they wanted the program to last longer.

Warehouse clubs Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O), Wal-Mart's Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale Club also monitor prices at nearby stations and try to match or undercut them to lure drivers.

(Reporting By Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by David Gregorio)

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