Wal-Mart Stores today (13 May) said first-quarter profits rose 6.9%, however the world’s largest retailer issued a cautious outlook as consumer spending slows and the global economy constricts.

Wal-Mart profits totalled US$3.02bn in the three months to 30 April, up from $2.83bn a year earlier. Overall revenue totalled $95.30bn, up 10.3% from $86.41bn a year ago.

Wal-Mart president and CEO Lee Scott attributed higher profits the group’s strategy to make inventory management more efficient and improve customer service.

“There are still uncertainties during the rest of the year,” Scott said. “The economy is playing a critical factor in 2008.”

Wal-Mart said it is well positioned to meet customers’ needs in the economic downturn nad beyond.

Excluding fuel, US same-store sales for the first quarter were up 2.9%, rising 2.7% in the Wal-Mart Stores division and 3.6% at Sam’s Clubs.

Wal-Mart Chief Financial Officer Tom Schoewe said the company expects second-quarter same store sales to increase between 0-2%.