(Feb. 20) BENTONVILLE, Ark. — In a business climate in which consolidation is slowing and retailers are seeing curtailed revenues, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. continues to post strong sales, with $71.07 billion in the fourth quarter of 2002, a 10.7% increase from a year ago.

While Sam’s Club wholesale division same-store sales fell almost half a percent, the company’s grocery store concept, Neighborhood Market, grew by 3.3% for same-store sales, according to Wal-Mart’s fourth-quarter report released on Feb. 18. Supercenters, which merge grocery and department store items under one roof, also had 3.3% growth in sales at stores open more than a year.

A 16.3% rise in fourth-quarter profits beat analysts’ projections. Wal-Mart earned $2.53 billion, or 57 cents a share, compared to $2.19 billion, or 57 cents a share, the previous fourth quarter.

In October, Wal-Mart announced it would add about 8% to its retail space, or about 48 million square feet, in the next fiscal year. The plan focuses heavily on the Supercenter format, which includes produce departments.