Walmart is kicking off Black Friday-style sales this week and touting free, next-day delivery as it gears up for a record-short holiday shopping season

Walmart is starting holiday sales earlier than ever before. AP/Gunnar Rathbun

Walmart is launching its holiday sales earlier than ever before and touting its new offer of free, next-day delivery as it prepares for a short shopping season.

The company said Wednesday that it would start offering online “Deal Drop” sales at midnight on Friday, which is about a week earlier than Walmart launched its holiday sales last year.

“The holidays at Walmart will officially begin this Friday at midnight,” said Steve Bratspies, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer for Walmart US, on a call with media on Wednesday.

Retailers are facing a short holiday shopping season this year. There are just 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is about a week shorter than the same period last year. Sales will start in stores on November 1, Bratspies said.

The first deals to hit Walmart’s site will include the BouncePro 7-Foot My First Trampoline for $US99 (a $US25 savings), the Farberware 3.2 Quart Digital Oil-Less Fryer for $US39 (a $US30 savings), and a VIZIO 55-inch Class M-Series Quantum 4K Ultra HDR Smart TV for $US398 (a $US100 savings), the company said.

Walmart offers next-day delivery for its first holiday season

This year marks Walmart’s first holiday season offering free, next-day delivery. Walmart announced in May that it would roll out the service nationwide for orders costing more than $US35. The service is available on a selection of up to 220,000 items, which varies regionally based on customers’ ordering habits.

Walmart touted the next-day shipping service in a press release on its holiday plans, but it included a caveat: “exclusions may apply during peak days,” the company stated.

Walmart also highlighted other “tech-enabled” ways for customers to shop, including a new interactive “gift finder.

Read more:
Walmart blows Amazon out of the water with its own free, next-day delivery

“Customers provide information based on the recipient and their price range and are served up personalised recommendations so they can choose the best gift for anyone on their list, even the hardest to shop for,” the company said.

Walmart said stores will offer expanded Check Out With Me, which allows shoppers to avoid lines at the register by checking out with a Walmart employee using a handheld device.

“Our price leadership is strong, and growing, and we’re excited to deliver savings for all of our holiday shoppers,” Bratspies said. “Saving our customers time is also paramount at this time of year, especially with fewer days to get ready for big family meals, parties and gift giving.”