Walmart is gearing up for a shorter holiday shopping season by launching online deals earlier than ever before.
On Wednesday, the retail giant announced its plans to help consumers get an early start on purchasing gifts with new and expanded services, more exclusive toys and events including visits from Santa. There are six fewer days this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas than in 2018.
“We’re going to offer more savings, more ways to shop, more gifts to shop for and more fun in our stores than ever before,” said Steve Bratspies, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, Walmart U.S., during a call with reporters. “It’s all in an effort to make the shopping experience easy, the prices low and this holiday season the happiest one yet for our customers.”
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The holiday season is the most important time of the year for the retail industry, and stores are fighting for every last customer by making the shopping experience as convenient, simple and quick as possible.
Beginning at midnight Eastern Time on Friday, Walmart is launching Early Deals Drops on Walmart.com, which Bratspies said is earlier than ever. He shared some of what the company called “top deals,” which include a VIZIO 55-inch Class M-Series Quantum 4K Ultra HDR Smart TV for $398, a $100 savings.
More holiday decor and items will be available in stores after Halloween, Bratspies said.
Bratspies said Walmart is making the shopping experience easier with nine tech-enabled ways to shop including free NextDay delivery and an expanded Check Out With Me, which allows shoppers to avoid long lines and check out with an associate where they are shopping.
This is the first holiday season that Walmart is offering free delivery the next day on eligible orders over $35 and up on hundreds of thousands of items including electronics and toys without a membership fee. By comparison, Amazon Prime costs $119 a year.
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New and expanded features
In addition to free NextDay delivery, here are other features Walmart says will make holiday shopping easier.
- Gift Finder: New this year, search for gifts on Walmart.com with Gift Finder, which provides personalized gift options for 40 different types of gift recipients based on information consumers provide.
- Scannable Toy Catalog: For the first time, customers with iOS devices can use their phones to shop for the hottest toys of the season right from the pages of Walmart’s seasonal toy catalog, which will be available Nov. 1.
- Expanded Check Out With Me: Check Out With Me is now available in all Walmart Supercenters, which allows consumers to avoid lines at the register and check out with an associate right where they are shopping.
- Expanded DotCom Store: The DotCom Store, which is also now available in all Walmart Supercenters, lets customers work with associates to place an online order right from the store if the customer cannot find the item they’re shopping for. Items are then sent directly to the customer’s home or to their nearest Walmart store for Pickup.
More top gifts
Walmart says this year it is offering more exclusive and new brands in stores and online, including SwissTech, WoodWick, Hobby Kids Adventures, Hello Bello, Kindi Kids and Bobbi Brown. Walmart also will have more than 500 exclusive toys, 20% more than last year.
Beginning Nov. 2, Walmart says it will offer more “retailtainment” events throughout the holiday season. The retailer will host themed events from movies, including Pokémon and Star Wars on Nov. 16-17 and Frozen 2 on Nov. 23-24.
Santa Claus also will make stops at Walmart stores nationwide on Nov. 9 and Dec. 7.
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Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko