Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) may finally be running out of room for U.S. expansion. Sales at U.S. stores open for at least a year fell 1.3 percent in the third quarter. This was the sixth consecutive quarterly decline. Only 54 new Wal-Mart stores opened in the U.S in 2010., down from 112 in 2009 and 159 in 2007. The company’s Sam’s Club business also lacks enough customers. In 2007, 12 stores opened and in 2009, 11 stores opened, with no closings either year. But in 2010, six Sam’s Clubs were opened and 12 were shut. Wal-Mart has such a substantial market share in the U.S. that it has become progressively harder to grow. Smaller companies such as Target (NYSE: TGT) and Amazon.com are now a threat to the world’s largest retailer.
(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)