Walmart Marks Up Toy Prices for the Holiday Season

12/15/2010 07:35 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Bloomberg News reports today that a company email from Nov. 30 instructed Walmart stores to mark up prices on more than a thousand kinds of toys during the holiday rush.

Wal-Mart managers in the U.S. received instructions to mark up an average of 1,800 types of toys per store, according to a company e-mail dated Nov. 30 obtained by Bloomberg News. The e- mail didn't disclose specific increases. The prices were changed "to better enable your store and the company to have a successful financial month," according to the e-mail.

The directive from Wal-Mart, which has about 3,800 U.S. stores, told managers to do the markups as soon as possible. The move may help Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke fulfill his October prediction that sales in U.S. stores open at least a year will be positive this quarter, after six straight drops.

Read the whole story at Bloomberg News.

Meanwhile, in Senator Bernie Sanders' 8-hour-plus speech on Friday against the the president and congressional Republicans' tax cut compromise, he cited the Walton family as one of the major beneficiaries of the deal. Paring down the estate tax could net the Walmart heirs a bonus of $32.7 billion. "One family, $32.7 billion. This is patently insane." The deal passed the Senate today and moved to the House, where Democratic leadership is expected to mount opposition to -- at least -- the estate tax changes.

The reported mark-ups are a far cry from the deflationary fears around the holidays the last two years, where chilly consumer data prompted Walmart to cut prices early and aggressively. While it may indicate that the United States' largest retailer is betting on an economic upturn, Americans freshly reminded of the founding family's $86.8 billion fortune may see it more like a penalty for late shoppers.

What do you think? Are they being pragmatic about profit expectations, or is this a Grinch move?