Walmart, Target to Start Holiday Sales Early to Ease Inflation

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By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO TUSEN Retail Writer

NEW YORK — Walmart and Target plan to launch deals and price customization offers earlier this year to keep up with Americans pressured by rising inflation and looking for ways to leverage the potential incentive of shopping to lighten up for the holidays.

For two years now, shoppers have started preparing for the holiday season early, but last year it was because the global supply chain was shaken as countries emerged from the pandemic. This year, experts believe it’s a rapid price hike, also linked to pandemic-affected economies, that will push Americans to shop early to avoid prices they believe could rise even further and to spread spending because they have more money. pay for gas, food, and just about everything else.

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The holiday sales strategies announced Thursday fall amid what is expected to be slower growth in holiday sales compared to a year ago. AlixPartners, the global consulting firm, predicts vacation sales will grow 4% to 7%, well below last year’s growth of 16%. Current inflation of 8.3% means retailers would see a decline in real sales.

Walmart, the country’s largest retailer, is also extending its returns period by more than a month. Gift returns are now accepted between Oct. 1 and Jan. 31, compared to last year’s return window from Nov. 1 to Jan. 24, the company said.

Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, will be offering a wider range of items this year with more new brands and more exclusive Walmart products than a year ago, according to Tom Ward, the company’s chief e-commerce officer. The company is increasing discounts on items such as toys, household items, electronics and beauty products. It said more than half of the toys on Walmart’s list of expected toys for the holiday season are under $50 — by far less than $25 — and nearly all of the toys are now available to shop or pre-order at walmart.com.

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Target, based in Minneapolis, said it will be offering holiday deals between October 6 and 8, a few days earlier than a year ago, and it will then start matching the price, also a few days earlier.

Target has one of the most generous retail price customization offers, against offers from more than two dozen other stores. The same goes for purchases from Target.com.

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Target plans to hire up to 100,000 seasonal workers in stores and distribution centers this holiday season, in line with a year ago.

Walmart is taking a more cautious hiring approach this year, saying this week it would hire 40,000 U.S. workers for the holidays, a majority of them seasonal workers.

Last year, Walmart said it would hire about 150,000 new U.S. store employees, most of them permanent, full-time positions, on top of 20,000 permanent distribution and warehouse workers, as the pandemic disrupted supply chains.

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