NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Wal-Mart ( WMT - Get Report) is predicting Christmas stockings will be filled with a lot of underwear and socks.

The CEO of the discount behemoth, Bill Simon, said during Goldman Sachs' Global Retail Conference that while children will receive the gadgets and toys on their wish lists, adults will be receiving practical, need-based gifts.

"Holiday is going to be price competitive," Simon predicted. "Shoppers are more cautious than distressed."

Simon based this prediction on back-to-school shopping trends. "Back-to-school came later this year than it has in the past," he said.

Shoppers, closely holding on to their wallets, are making purchases closer to need and picking up more wear-now items. Simon observed that a big chunk of back-to-school selling occurred once school already started.

Wal-Mart says it is now in the process of figuring out how to serve these shoppers, and expects to see sales return positive by the fourth quarter.

--Written by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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