Amazon's new policy for account suspensions doesn't go far enough to protect sellers from potentially unfair and wrongful suspensions, merchants say.Technologyread more
There is no end in sight to the Boeing 737 Max grounding after two fatal crashes, prompting airlines to rethink their growth plans.Airlinesread more
Facebook Vice President David Marcus is the face of the company's Libra digital currency, but the original driving force was a 26-year-old female corporate-development...Technologyread more
After a year of flooding, Midwest farmers face a stifling heat wave that's spreading across the U.S.Agricultureread more
A quarter of the S&P 500 companies report earnings next week, and that could buffet the market as investors await the July Fed meeting.Market Insiderread more
Moving lots of data to a public cloud over the internet can take months or years. CNBC got an inside look at how AWS transfers data to the cloud for its clients.Technologyread more
Iran's Revolutionary Guard claims a British tanker it still holds, Stena Impero, failed to follow international maritime rules.World Newsread more
"It troubles me that the most important political office in the world is becoming the face of racism and exclusion," Kaeser said in a Twitter post.Politicsread more
CoinShares Chief Strategy Officer Meltem Demirors discusses Facebook's Libra project and its impact on the cryptocurrency market after testifying to the House Financial...Fast Moneyread more
Some 40% of Americans would struggle to come up with even $400 to pay for an emergency expense. Just how are so many Americans so short on cash? Blame debt.Personal Financeread more
Amazon hires Trump-allied lobbyist Jeff Miller as battle for Pentagon contract heats up.Politicsread more
Its prices continue to undercut competitors. It's offering a slew of new initiatives, from in-store money-transferring services to organic groceries—even comparison shopping for auto insurance.
But despite these strategies—and a broad consumer base driven by low prices—Wal-Mart's U.S. stores are still struggling to gain traction, having posted their fifth-straight quarter of negative same-store sales last week.
At the center of the discounter's domestic woes is its appeal among shoppers who are facing stagnant wage growth and simply can't afford to spend on discretionary items—or in some cases, food.
"They're lowering prices and they're still not getting the traffic," said Belus Capital Advisors analyst Brian Sozzi.
Clearly, Wal-Mart is looking for a new lever to pull in order to boost its sales growth.
Although weather played a role in many retailers' earnings for the first quarter, cold temperatures can't be blamed for more than a year of sluggishness in domestic sales, analysts said. Among Wal-Mart's woes is its grocery business—where the company says sales were trimmed by 0.9 percent because of last year's changes to food stamp benefits.
With food accounting for more than half of the retailer's business, it's a big blow.
"The Wal-Mart moms … are shopping on Friday and Saturday after they get paid, and they're not going to the stores on Monday and Tuesday," Sozzi said.
Despite the ongoing struggles of its core customer, Sozzi said Wal-Mart is "stuck in this weird gray zone" in terms of appealing to a higher-income consumer. It ran into issues a decade ago when it attempted to shift its apparel category to skew toward higher-end labels, which "flopped" and led to deep markdowns, said Ken Perkins, Retail Metrics president.
"They've had so many missteps over the years, particularly in the apparel space," Perkins said. "I've got to believe they're a bit gunshy in that space."
A number of recent initiatives appear aimed at targeting a relatively younger, higher-income consumer, Perkins said. These include its new video-game trade-in program, which launched in March, the organics food push with the Wild Oats label, and a sharper focus on the Web.
Read MoreWatch out Amazon! Wal-Mart is coming
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Deisha Barnett said the retailer serves a broad customer range, and its new strategies are aimed at engaging its existing customers and attracting a new customer.
"Customers' needs are changing. Period," Barnett said. "This whole idea of wanting to know what is in the foods you're eating, or things to be grown locally or organically, that's not just a trend for a higher-income consumer."
In Sozzi's opinion, Wal-Mart needs to continue to go after the low-income consumer, and "hope and pray" that it offers some enticing products in home or organics, which can persuade a Macy's or Nordstrom customer to come visit.
Perkins, on the other hand, said he thinks Wal-Mart should also focus on bringing in a higher-income consumer. He added that some of the retailer's recent initiatives, mainly its improving online shopping capabilities, could bring in a new demographic. But he also pointed out that it's incredibly hard to move the needle at a retailer logging billions of dollars in sales.
This is especially true given that a number of midtier consumers who had traded down to Wal-Mart during the recession have now traded back up, Perkins said.
"They have to try something," he said of Wal-Mart. "They can't just sit and watch their market share bleed."
UBS analyst Jason DeRise said he thinks Wal-Mart is taking the right approach in getting its U.S. business back on track—dropping prices across all its categories. And in an April 24 report, Credit Suisse analyst Michael Exstein gave the retailer kudos for beginning to address many of its external issues, including a "deliberate plan" to ramp up its small-store format.
Wal-Mart's smaller Neighborhood Markets stores were a bright spot in last week's earnings report, posting a 5 percent same-store sales gain against a "strong and consistent" performance, even in bad weather periods.
Perkins said these stores are less susceptible to weather swings because they are located in more urban areas and can be reached without driving. This will also help to combat high fuel prices that analysts have said contributed to Wal-Mart's woes because the bigger stores tend to be based away from city centers.
One danger in the smaller stores, however, is the possible cannibalization effect they could have on Wal-Mart's supercenters, where shoppers would load up on extra discretionary items, Perkins said.
Sozzi said the discounter needs to take its store footprint plans even one step further and shrink its supercenters. In the company's earnings call, Wal-Mart U.S. President Bill Simon said 10 percent of its domestic stores are underperforming.
Despite significant external headwinds, Perkins said there is still room for Wal-Mart to send its U.S. segment back into positive territory—so long as the economy cooperates.
"There is a chance for this to turn around," he said. "They key hinges on that lower-income consumer finally getting some relief."
—By CNBC's Krystina Gustafson.