US & Canada

Wal-Mart to bring back guns to hundreds of US stores

The back of a Wal-Mart employee at one of its stores
Image caption Wal-Mart stopped selling guns at about 500 of its 3,600 US stores in 2006

Wal-Mart has said it will soon bring back the sale of firearms, including rifles and shotguns, at more than 500 of its US stores.

The retail giant stopped selling guns at hundreds of its 3,600 US stores in 2006, citing slumping consumer demand.

But a spokesman said guns would return to the shelves as "part of the overall push to bring 8,000 products back".

Thursday's news comes two months after Wal-Mart announced a seventh straight quarterly decline in US sales.

Hunting and fishing

Wal-Mart will be stocking more merchandise in a wide range of its stores in an effort to "offer customers the broadest assortment of our products possible", spokesman Lorenzo Lopez told the BBC.

He added that firearms would be part of that push, which he said had been planned for months.

"A few years back... we were trying to streamline the assortment," Mr Lopez said, referring to the decision in 2006 to cease stocking firearms in many Wal-Mart stores.

Wal-Mart currently sells rifles, shotguns and ammunition at about 1,000 of its locations in the US.

That will rise to roughly half its 3,600 US stores under the changes outlined on Thursday.

Mr Lopez said Wal-Mart was focusing on areas of the country where hunting and fishing are popular.

Federally-tracked gun sales grew more than 12% in the first quarter of 2011. However, growth has mainly been seen in handguns, which Wal-Mart does not carry.

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