Walmart raises stakes for holiday shopping season's start

Walmart will open its doors — and begin its holiday deals — at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, getting a four-hour jump on the Black Friday competition.
By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO Published: November 8, 2012
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MacNaughton declined to offer details but he told reporters Wednesday the discounter is offering sharper discounts and broader, deeper assortments for the kickoff and the rest of the season compared to years past. For example, Walmart doubled the number of tablet computers it's bringing in for the winter holidays.

The stepped-up strategy comes as Walmart, based in Bentonville, Ark., is counting on keeping its momentum going at its U.S. business, which started roaring back late last year after struggling during a more than two-year slump. It's critical for the holiday shopping season, which accounts for as much as 40 percent of a retailer's annual sales.

Walmart's strategy raises the competitive stakes for the start of the holiday season. American retailers have increasingly expanded their hours on Black Friday to get before the competition, but now the kickoff is creeping earlier into Thanksgiving Day.

Starting with the 8 p.m. sale on Thanksgiving, Walmart will have two more rounds of sales that will also include a consumer electronics sale two hours later and a sale at 5 a.m. on Friday.