- Walmart and other retailers spread out Black Friday deals this year.
- Most of Walmart’s biggest sales won’t actually be on Black Friday.
- Walmart is one of many stores closing on Thanksgiving this year.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Walmart’s Black Friday plans this year are much different than what shoppers may be used to.
“Our events, which last year would have been more of a singular event, we have several events that are planned, a few that are behind us and more to come,” Walmart CEO John Furner said in a call with investors on Tuesday.
In stark contrast to years past, many of the retailer’s deals are online-only running through November, and the biggest deals will drop at 7 p.m. on November 25, the day before Thanksgiving.
In fact, the store is breaking with tradition by closing all locations on Thanksgiving. In previous years, Walmart was open on the holiday, with Black Friday deals starting around 6 p.m. that evening. The sales typically drew huge crowds, an obvious thing to try to avoid while the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge in the US.
Walmart, along with Target and Best Buy, were early to announce that deals would be spread out over the month, with more options for online ordering and curbside pickup.
“By spreading deals out across multiple days and making our hottest deals available online, we expect the Black Friday experience in our stores will be safer and more manageable for both our customers and our associates,” Walmart executive Scott McCall said in a statement.
Walmart’s emphasis on online deals has it shifting resources this holiday, and it is creating 42 “pop-up eCommerce Distribution Centres” inside its own store distribution centres to send goods to customers fast. Walmart’s e-commerce business has grown quickly over the last year, in part thanks to the pandemic.Online shopping grew 79% over the third quarter Walmart said, noting that COVID-19 sped up trends towards e-commerce by as much as two or three years.
For those that chose to shop in-store, retailers still have to make them feel safe. For Walmart’s coronavirus pandemic measures, stores will be limited to 20% of capacity, and Walmart just started counting customers going in and out of stores again as COVID-19 cases rise.
The retailer first started counting customers in April, but it stopped in October as it reportedly rarely neared 20% capacity. Now, the safety protocol is back in place as the US continues to break daily record numbers of COVID-19 cases.
In addition, each shopper will get a sanitised cart when they enter the store, and “health ambassadors” will remind them to wear masks on Black Friday, Walmart said. “We’re reinforcing our messaging to customers, members, and associates regarding wearing face coverings, social distancing, and other safety measures,”Walmart said in a third-quarter earning call.
Walmart’s actual Black Friday offerings on the day itself are much leaner this year. Deals will mostly focus on home goods, instead of doorbuster sales on TVs and gaming consoles that have marked previous years.
Analysts from eMarketer predicted that holiday spending this year would total about $US1 trillion, with a slight decrease in in-store sales but a 35% jump in online sales. Walmart said it is preparing for the “new normal” of this holiday season.
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