Much of the country is suffering through an unusually late heat wave but some retailers are already trying to get shoppers in the holiday shopping mood.
Online retailer Jet.com, part of Walmart (WMT), said on Monday that customers would get 5% cash back on orders made between Sept. 18 and Oct. 29 and be able to apply the credit to holiday season purchases as of November 13, about when Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales will be in full swing. Customers can accumulate and redeem a credit, called “JetCash,” of up to $50.
The move is a first salvo in the coming price wars and signals that Walmart, as well as its competitors, will once again compete aggressively around the most important quarter for retailers. Target (TGT) recently announced thousands of price cuts heading into the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas period. While Walmart or its subsidiaries don’t operate loyalty programs, the jet.com move is straight out of the playbook of many such programs, something jet.com acknowledged.
“This effort rewards our loyal customers with some cash towards their holiday shopping and also attracts new shoppers,” Jet president Liza Landsman said in a statement.
The National Retail Federation has yet to issue its holiday season forecast, but a number of consulting firms are painting a promising picture for retailers positioned to win. AlixPartner said last week it expected retailers’ sales for the November-through-January period to rise 3.5% to 4.4% over the year-earlier period.
“The so-called ‘Retail Apocalypse’ may not be nigh after all,” said Joel Bines, co-head of the firm’s retail practice and a managing director. “However, there definitely will be losers as well as winners this holiday season.”
And with Walmart.com’s sales up 63% last quarter, helped in part by Jet.com (which it acquired 13 months ago), it’s clear to see that retailer is putting the odds of landing in the right column in its favor.