Many retailers are looking to maximize profits by opening on Thanksgiving or extending Black Friday for an extra day or two. Not to be outdone, Walmart is opening on Thanksgiving and offering Black Friday deals through the following Monday. Stores are scheduled to open at 6 p.m. Thursday, positioning the retail giant as a strong contender in the race to attract shoppers. Walmart executives hope this extended sale will stabilize sales in its U.S. stores.
In the past, shopping the big holiday sale meant getting out of bed when it was still dark out and standing in long lines waiting for stores to open. Now that many retailers are opening their doors late in the day on Thanksgiving, shoppers have more time to relax and plan their shopping trips. Walmart's chief merchandising officer says customers are now shopping at some point during the weekend instead of standing in long lines on Black Friday.
Walmart plans to kick off its holiday sale with discounts in several popular categories. The retailer is advertising discounted Blu-rays, toys and kitchen appliances. One of the biggest draws in the home entertainment category is DVDs on sale for as low as $1.96 each. At 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, the company is offering special markdowns on electronics. One of the advertised deals is a set of portable speakers with a steep $100 discount. Walmart is also kicking off an online sale on Thursday night, luring shoppers with the promise of free shipping on some items. This may be an attempt to compete with Target's offer of free shipping on all online purchases up until December 20.
Once Black Friday starts, Walmart is offering 30 percent discounts in several merchandise categories. These discounts are in effect from 6 a.m. until noon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The company is also offering special discounts on diamonds and mobile phones during this five-day sale. A Walmart spokesperson says the company has increased inventory in every merchandise category to prepare for the Black Friday event.
Walmart's strategy seems solid, but executives are hoping it is enough to counteract several years of lackluster sales in the United States. In 2013, same-store sales decreased by 0.4 percent. There is also a risk Walmart will feel some backlash from people who believe retailers should not open their doors on Thanksgiving. Several prominent companies have pledged to stay closed on Thursday, Barnes & Noble, Dillard's, Hobby Lobby, Nordstrom, T.J. Maxx and Pier 1 among them.
To make this event a success, Walmart will have to do more than just discount a few items on Black Friday. The company also needs to focus on enhancing the shopping experience and delivering excellent service to its customers. Otherwise, shoppers may choose to visit Target, Sears, J.C. Penney or another retailer instead.
Photo courtesy of Iamnee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net