Walmart (WMT) has made the first of its Black Friday style deals available to shoppers online as the race to win the holiday season starts to intensify.
The world’s largest retailer, looking for a repeat of its strong 2016 holiday season when it bested rivals like Target (TGT), is offering a few deals on items such an Acer Aspire ES Laptop and the Xbox One S Console Bundle from Thursday through November 12, in the hopes of whetting shoppers’ appetites for the Black Friday shopping bonanza.
A full list of Walmart’s Black Friday deals that will only be available on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday itself is available here.
Other retailers including Kohl’s (KSS) and Amazon.com (AMZN) have also begun giving shoppers a foretaste of the deals to be had starting on Thanksgiving Day. (Many such deals, include Walmart’s, will be available online all day on Nov. 23 but only in stores later on Turkey Day. In the case of Walmart, the deals will be in-store starting at 6 p.m., as was the case last year.) On Wednesday, Best Buy also announced an early start to its Black Friday deals.
Last week, Walmart announced its overall holiday season strategy, which includes holding thousands of parties in its stores.
While the National Retail Federation has forecast a strong holiday season for the industry as a whole, it’s clear that the Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday period is only getting more competitive, what with Walmart and Amazon.com (AMZN) promising low prices and retailers falling over themselves to offer faster delivery and unique items. The earlier deals may blunt the overall impact of sales on Black Friday itself—as they have in recent years—but retailers are taking a season-wide look at their strategy since so much shopping has been brought earlier into the Christmas period. The months of November and December can generate 30% of annual sales for many retailers. But beyond that, a successful Black Friday period is key to getting shoppers into the habit of choosing one retailer rather than another.
Even though Walmart has made a point to reduce the amount of inventory it carries in stores—increasing efficiency and avoiding a surfeit of unsold merchandise—the retailer says it will be fully stocked for the Black Friday shopping bonanza, lest it miss out unnecessarily on some business.
“Customers also want to ensure that when they venture out on Black Friday, they can find the deal that they’re after. The items need to be available in the stores,” Steve Bratspies, chief merchant for Walmart U.S. told reporters on a conference call.