By Sneha Shankar - Walmart announced Wednesday that it will launch a “New Black Friday” this year by offering deals for five consecutive days, including Thanksgiving Day, in a lead-up to Black Friday. The company is one of several retailers to announce discounts for an entire week to get an edge on sales at the start of the holiday shopping season.
The world’s largest retailer, which has lowered its sales forecast for the year, is trying to make the best of the holiday season with the move, and said that its deals will begin online just after midnight on Thanksgiving Day, and will include discounts on everything from television sets to Apple iPhones. The company, which has kept its stores open on Thanksgiving Day since 1998, will open its stores to Black Friday deals on Thursday at 6 p.m., and offer discounts on 3,700 more items than last year.
“Black Friday is no longer about waking up at the crack of dawn to stand in long lines and hope for the best. At Walmart, it has become a family shopping tradition where everyone shops at some point throughout the weekend,” Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S., said in a statement released by the company, adding: “This year, we’re blowing it out with five days of deals in store and online. We’ll have crazy low prices on the gifts our customers want.”
The company will offer discounts on iPad minis and 65-inch TVs at designated areas in its stores between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. After 8.p.m., the retailer will offer discounts on other electronic items, while a third sale will begin at 6 a.m. on Nov. 28, which is the original Black Friday.
“We’re using our entire supply chain to deliver for our customers in a way no other retailer can,” Naughton said, in the statement, adding: “Our guarantee ensures our customers get the product they came for and enables us to organize the store in a way that makes the shopping experience better for everyone.”
In an apparent response to criticisms that retailers should not make workers come in on Thanksgiving Day, a company spokesperson said that all company workers who work during its Black Friday week would receive extra pay for the entire week, according to the Huffington Post. The company expects to spend over $70 million in holiday pay to hourly workers this holiday season, the report said, adding that, last year, 22 million people shopped at Walmart on Thanksgiving Day.
Target, one of Walmart’s major competitors, has also decided to conduct a pre-Black Friday online sale and will waive off shipping costs between Oct. 22 and Dec. 20. Macy’s and JC Penney will also be open on Thanksgiving Day, while Amazon.com has launched a whole month of deals leading up to Black Friday.
However, some remain skeptical of retailers' efforts to enhance their revenues during the year's busiest shopping period.
“Overall, just because you’ve moved the sales up, or extended them, or expanded Thanksgiving, that doesn’t increase the amount of money people will spend for the season,” Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, said according to Forbes.
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