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Duke says shoppers are "under pressure"

NEW YORK -- Wal-Mart Stores CEO Mike Duke said rising gas prices are hurting the chain’s main customers, who are having an even harder time stretching their dollars to the next payday than they did a year ago.

"There's no doubt that rising fuel prices are having an impact on our customers," said Duke at an event that was part of The Wall Street Journal's executive breakfast series,  according to the Associated Press. "There's more pressure."

Duke said Walmart customers are consolidating shopping trips, though they are spending more on each excursion. At the same time, however, shoppers are also cutting back on discretionary items.

Duke also said Walmart is seeing more noticeable drops in buying in the few days before the end of the month when money is tight and then a big spike in spending during the first few days of the month when some of its customers shoppers get paychecks or government assistance, according to the report.

Duke did not talk about specific plans for expansion in New York, but he said it's a big opportunity for the company. He estimated last year New Yorkers spent $195 million at Walmart stores outside the city, based on credit-card receipts, the Associated Press said.

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