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New York (AP) – Walmart says it will spread its traditional one-day deals for Black Friday over three weekends in November in a bid to reduce crowds in its stores during a pandemic
The country’s largest retailer said on Wednesday that more of its door deals would be reserved for online, as a way to divert more buyers from its stores.
The discounter, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, will begin online deals on Nov. 4, with new deals in stores on Nov. 7. The second event will start online on November 1
Walmart said it would return to limiting the number of customers in its stores to 20% of the store’s capacity during the three major events in the store, as it was during the early phase of the pandemic. The stores will open at 5 a.m. during the three Black Friday events. It says that customers will form a line to enter the store. And the workers will give the customers rehabilitated shopping carts. The so-called health ambassadors will be placed at the entrances to greet customers and remind them to put on a mask.
For the first time, the discounter will also offer buyers of curbs in its stores for Black Friday orders.
The details offer a big retailer a first look at what the rediscovered Black Friday will look like during a pandemic. Other retailers such as Macy’s said their Black Friday deals would be spread out and encourage more online shopping, but no one gave specific details.
The day after Thanksgiving is losing its luster as the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season in the last few years. This is because retailers started making deals for Thanksgiving and then increasingly offered holiday discounts throughout the month. Still, despite competition from other days, Black Friday remains the busiest day of the year, according to ShopperTrak, which uses cameras in a number of stores to track traffic.
This holiday season, many stores begin their holiday deals in October. Amazon, which usually holds its annual first day event in mid-July, has postponed it to this week. Other stores such as Target and Walmart have joined and are holding holiday sales that match the event. Many stores, including Walmart, will not open Thanksgiving this year.
As shoppers avoid physical stores and focus more on online shopping, store traffic is expected to decline 22% to 25% in the six key weeks of the holiday season compared to the same period a year ago, according to a forecast by ShopperTrak.
And ShopperTrak expects that the 10 busiest days this year will account for 34.2% of all holiday traffic, compared to 46.5% in 2019. As a result, typical holiday traffic peaks will catch up, More days will matter throughout the season, according to Brian Field, senior director of retail consulting at ShopperTrak, part of Sensormatic Solutions. Field said he still expects Black Friday to be the busiest day of the year.
The challenge for stores will be to get shoppers to buy earlier.
“If the deal is right, customers are ready to shop sooner,” Scott McCall, Walmart’s chief sales officer, told The Associated Press.
McCall noted that Walmart was forced to rethink Black Friday when the pandemic was declared. He noted that many of the holiday items intended for the shops were redirected to the e-commerce centers.
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