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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Wal-Mart has finally admitted defeat and pulled out of Germany. The world's biggest retailing chain is selling its German stores at fire sale prices. Stephen Beard has more on that story from London.

STEPHEN BEARD: The retreat is not just humiliating. It's costly. Wal-Mart has lost a billion dollars on its ill-fated German foray. It is now selling all the 85 hypermarkets it acquired there since the late 90s.

Wal-Mart admits it never really came to grips with German shopping habits. But there was an added misfortune.

In recent years German consumers have been even more lethargic than usual says David Shirreff of the Economist magazine. Wal-Mart has faced a big consumer downturn.

DAVID SHIRREFF: They picked probably the worst five years they could have done. Even now, although consumer confidence was supposed to be coming back, the latest figures released just a couple of days ago seem to show that it's slumped again.

He says Wal-Mart is clearly relieved to be bailing out of Germany. The company, which runs more than 6,000 stores around the world, is now focusing on high growth markets in China, India and South America.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.