A facelift and even lower prices kept the world's largest retailer afloat in a troubled economy.
Staring down the barrel of brutal fourth-quarter retail forecasts, CEO Lee Scott dramatically cut prices on 15,000 items - including popular toys and electronics - by 20% more than usual to lure holiday shoppers. That rocked the industry, pressuring other retailers to squeeze already tight margins.
The tactic worked: Wal-Mart grossed $100 billion, breaking its fourth-quarter sales record, and soundly beat Target in same-store holiday sales for the first time in nearly a decade. --Christopher Tkaczyk and David Goldman