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Wal-Mart CEO: High taxes stretching consumers

Friday, 23 Aug 2013 | 4:03 PM ET
Wal-Mart CEO: Feel very confident for holiday season
Friday, 23 Aug 2013 | 3:16 PM ET
CNBC's Maria Bartiromo spoke to Wal-Mart's CEO Mike Duke to discuss the outlook of the economy and the consumer.

From the payroll tax hike to increased gas prices and looming unemployment, Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke said there is a "cloud on the consumer" that threatens to damper the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons.

"I think the overall consumer spending in the United States and frankly around the world will be under pressure through the back-to-school and through the holiday season," Duke told CNBC's Maria Bartiromo on "Closing Bell" on Friday.

Duke said Wal-Mart plans to make further investment in technology, whether by way of acquisitions or development.

Last Thursday, Wal-Mart reported disappointing quarterly earnings. U.S. same-store sales slipped 0.3 percent in the second quarter. E-commerce was a bright spot, however. Online sales are up 30 percent—growth that can be attributed to the technology investments, according to Duke.

"We have had great growth in the e-commerce business, and we look at the overlap of technology and our retail stores," he said. "I think that is why we are having good success. So the investments we are making are going to continue, because we see a great return on that."

(Read more: Wal-Mart ramps up tech investments)

Investment in Wal-Mart's 11,000 stores will also be a top priority, he added.

"We are in this for the long term for all the markets that we operate in, and that's our cycle of the way we invest," Duke said.

Duke also addressed another area where Wal-Mart is spending: compliance.

The company has been spending tens of millions of dollars on compliance-related issues in the wake of bribery allegations in Mexico, though the CEO declined to comment specifically on the outlook for that spending.

"We have invested in people and processes and systems to ensure that every market that we operate in, that we do it the right way in every aspect of our business," he said.

—By CNBC's Drew Sandholm. Follow him on Twitter @DrewSandholm

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