Walmart isn’t waiting for Black Friday. it’s ready for holiday shoppers

New York
CNN Company

Halloween is still a month away, but Walmart is ready for Christmas.

Walmart said Thursday that it is launching the year-end holiday shopping season in its stores and online next month.

Noting that more than half of its customers make holiday shopping plans in October, retailers said they will begin offering deeper deals in popular gift categories such as toys, home decor, electronics and beauty products.

At the same time, Walmart said it has also increased its supply of what it expects to be hot holiday sellers, including televisions, tablets, wireless headphones and phones, robotic vacuum cleaners and furniture.

“We know our clients’ wallets are under pressure and value is always top of mind. They trust us to consistently offer low prices on everyday products, and we want to make it easier for them to find that same value when they shop for the holidays, which starts earlier than ever this year,” Tom Ward, executive vice president and head of e-commerce at Walmart US, told CNNBusiness. in an interview

Ward declined to provide details on the level of discounts shoppers can expect at Walmart this year and how they compare to last year’s offerings.

The retailer said it is also changing its return policy for Walmart and Walmart+ subscription service customers to give this year’s gift shoppers more time to make returns.

Walmart said purchases made on or after Oct. 1 can be returned until Jan. 31, 2023. And customers can make returns in a variety of ways, he said, including in-store returns, returns at Walmart stores and home pickup for Walmart+ members. .

Given the company’s status as an industry player, it’s too early to tell whether Walmart’s earlier-than-usual holiday push might inspire other retailers to follow suit.

Neil Saunders, retail analyst and managing director at GlobalData Retail, predicts they will.

“It won’t be the only one doing this, with Amazon likely to do some sort of deal at the end of October and other retailers will be joining in with various discounts and promotions,” Saunders said.

Still, he added, Walmart “makes sense to push the button on holiday efforts early.”

“Consumers will begin their holiday shopping early this year as they look to spread costs at a time when household incomes are being squeezed. This is especially among the more austere consumers where Walmart plays strong,” he said.

However, having all those early deals hanging around is likely to fuel a shopping frenzy during the biggest sales period of the year for retailers, which historically begins in earnest on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Households across the nation continue to face persistently high inflation that eats away at their budgets and savings, forcing them to cut back.

The consulting company Deloitte is looking forward to the holidays retail sales will generally increase 4% to 6% in the key year-end gift-buying months of November, December and January (when Christmas gift cards are typically redeemed), up from a strong 15.1% increase in the same period last year. in the year

Although families will be shopping for gifts, this year they may trim their gift lists to include less family and friends.

“Overall, there will still be sales growth, but it won’t be as pronounced as last year,” said Rod Sides, Deloitte’s vice president and head of the U.S. retail and distribution practice. “If consumers are shopping less for gifts, expect to see more holiday promotions than ever before.”