Wal-Mart Kick Starts 'Black November' Holiday Shopping Online

Wal-Mart Kick Starts 'Black November' Holiday Shopping Online

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(FOX 11 / AP) Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is upping the ante on holiday shopping.

The world's largest retailer is pulling forward by nearly a month seven big deals on items like TVs and tablets that were originally reserved for the day after Thanksgiving and so-called Cyber Monday.

Shoppers will be able to purchase the items online starting shortly after midnight Friday. At the same time, the company's website will be pushing another 300 holiday deals.

The seven deals include a 42- inch JVC LED TV for $299, a savings of 36%, and a 10-inch XELIO tablet for $49, a 51% discount. The items will be available while supplies last. Last year, Wal-Mart offered about 100 holiday deals online right after Halloween, but the offerings were focused on home decor.

"It's been a tough year for the average American family," Joel Anderson, president and CEO of Wal-Mart.com, told The Associated Press. "It's our job to be able to help our customers."

He said Wal-Mart decided to accelerate offering the seven deals a month ago. Wal-Mart declined to say whether it would be repeating the discounts during the Thanksgiving weekend.

Anderson noted that on top of economic challenges, there are loyal shoppers who want to be able to shop for bargains early. Last year, Wal-Mart saw traffic on its website surge right after Halloween, he noted.

The move comes as Wal-Mart, like others, have seen customers scale back purchases heading into the holiday shopping season, which accounts for anywhere from 20% to 40% of retailers' annual revenue. While the job and housing markets are recovering, the improvements haven't been enough to sustain increased spending among shoppers.

The partial government shutdown, which lasted 16 days, also soured shoppers' confidence. The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, expects an increase of 3.9% in sales for the November-December period. That's higher than last year's 3.5%, but the forecast didn't account for the prolonged shutdown. Online sales are expected to be up 13% to 15%, according to the group.

Retailers also say that there's more pressure this year, because the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is six days shorter than in 2012.

Against this background, a slew of stores including J.C. Penney and Macy's have announced they are opening their doors on Thanksgiving evening for the first time. Wal-Mart, which started deals at its stores Thanksgiving evening last year, hasn't said when it will start doing so this year.

Wal-Mart has been particularly vulnerable to the economy's woes since it caters to low-income shoppers. But the retailer is also trying to offer its shoppers anywhere, anytime access and using its website as a weapon in the holiday wars.

Marketers started promoting the Monday after Thanksgiving as "Cyber Monday" in 2005 to push people to shop online.

Heading into the holiday season, Wal-Mart's website has doubled the number of products it offers online to 5 million. It's now offering free shipping for orders of more than $50 on nearly 99% of the items sold on the site. That's up from 15%.

Such moves are expected to help fuel the company's online sales, which the company forecast to increase 30% to $10 billion in its current fiscal year. However, it's still a sliver of its annual revenue of $486 billion.

 

From Hal Eisner:

Mark your calendar! Chanukah starts November 27th on the night before Thanksgiving. The first day of turkey day will coincide with the first "day" of Chanukah. Very unusual. Christmas is, of course, December 25th. Kwanzaa is the day after Christmas. And, big retailers like WalMart and Amazon.com want holiday shopping to start yesterday! In fact, many started this past weekend creating what we might call "Black November!" To retailers "Black Friday" is too long to wait to make holiday bucks!

The reasons for starting all this shopping stuff a month early are fairly obvious. Among them, a gloomy economy and the recent Federal Government Shutdown. But, the big reason is that Thanksgiving is late this year creating 6 fewer days for shopping. That right there makes retailers nervous! So, if you have fewer days then add more up front. Add a whole month! That seems to be the thinking at major retailers. And, this year - for the first time - Macy's and J.C. Penney will be open on Thanksgiving.

So, look for the bargains. They are out there as retailers try to get you to buy early and often!!

So, here I am in the parking lot of a WalMart in Porter Ranch. I'm looking for shoppers to talk with about how retailers are starting holiday sales early this year because there are 6 fewer traditional shopping days since Turkey Day is later this year and they don't want to hurt their bottom line.

Good Idea? Too soon? Questions like that…

Reactions were pretty much what I expected. One woman says "I wait till the last minute." Another says "it's too early for me. A third, "(Hal: What do you think about this early push?) It's too much!"

Maybe for those shoppers, but not for Stacey Orrill. She's done half her shopping she says. Her truck was full of stuff. "This is for my son." This is for my daughter" She poked through one bag and then another. And, with coupons in had she was ready for yet another day of shopping and glad to see the early push.

"It's too early for me," said John Foster. Maybe so, but when I asked him if he'd sing a Christmas song for me he belted  out "Jingle Bells" without any hesitation! Guess he's in the spirit!

Happy Shopping!

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