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Wal-Mart to offer smartphone trade-in program

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, later this month will let U.S. customers trade in their smartphones for credit toward new ones.

The chain will offer a $300 credit for Apple iPhone 5 handsets and $175 for Samsung Galaxy SIII phones, among other deals, the Bentonville, Ark.-based company said Tuesday.

The trade-in program will be available in 3,600 Walmart and Sam's Club stores starting Sept. 21 -- the day after the two new iPhones announced Tuesday by Apple Inc. go on sale.

Wal-Mart's move, which follows similar efforts from Apple, Best Buy Co., Target Corp. and RadioShack Corp., could drive traffic and boost sales in electronics and mobile phone accessories, said Brian Yarbrough, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. in St. Louis.

"It's a way to be competitive and drive people into stores," Yarbrough said. "They failed to gain strength in sales in electronics last quarter and this could help that category."

In its earnings report last month, Wal-Mart said it had "soft results" in electronics, though the wireless category showed sales strength.

The company said it was the No. 1 handset retailer for the three months ending June 30.

Trade-in payments will be applied to new smartphones with two-year contracts from AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless or Sprint Corp., or to prepaid plans. The credits range from $50 to $300 for phones that are working and aren't damaged.

"More and more, customers are choosing where they purchase new smartphones based on where they'll get the best value for their trade-ins," said Steve Bratspies, executive vice president of general merchandise for the retailer in the United States.

Wal-Mart has 10,995 stores in 27 countries. It had fiscal 2013 sales of about $466 billion.

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