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• Wal-Mart-owned Sam's Club announced that between May 18 and May 23, it will give away free annual memberships or $40 gift cards to existing club members. This is in addition to the already-announced decision to cash economic stimulus checks for free.

The promotion is tied to the purchase of certain merchandise.

Bloomberg reports that Wal-Mart plans to open 27 stores in Canada by the end of the year, most of them supercenters. The openings represent an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Wal-Mart, that will result in the creation of 6,000 jobs in Canada.

The openings will give Wal-Mart more than 320 stores north of the border.

• Wal-Mart announced that it is launching a new website designed to help customers "hungry for ideas to stretch their dollars during tough times." It will feature financial author Ellie Kay, who will be "speaking about practical ways in which women, families and children can better understand how to save and spend their money. Her advice will serve as a resource for budget-conscious shoppers looking for tips and tools as they face a summer of rising costs for gas, food and other necessities."

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