Why wait for Black Friday or Cyber Monday to start holiday shopping? That is the question Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) would like shoppers to consider. Walmart has decided to kick things off with seven big deals on TVs, tablets and more, available online starting shortly after midnight Friday.
Last year, Walmart offered about 100 holiday deals online after Halloween, though they were mostly home decor. Still, the company saw traffic on its website surge at the time. This year, more than 300 holiday deals will be available at Walmart.com, including toys.
A 42-inch JVC LED TV will be among the seven big deals. It will go for $299, which would be a savings of 36%. Early shoppers can also get a 10-inch XELIO tablet for $49, or more than half off, while supplies last. And Walmart also now offers free shipping for orders of more than $50 on nearly everything sold on Walmart.com.
What makes Walmart and other big retailers, such as Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) and Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M), nervous are the signs that customers have scaled back on purchases heading into the holiday shopping season. Though the housing and job markets are recovering, that growth has not been especially strong. The 16-day government shutdown also shook shoppers’ confidence.
Retailers also are well aware that this year the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is six days shorter than it was in 2012. Several retailers, including Macy’s and J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) have said they will open their doors on Thanksgiving evening for the first time. Walmart did so last year but has not announced yet whether it will do so again this year.