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US retailers Walmart and Target kick off sales early to lure back shoppers

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Shoppers leave a Walmart store in Lakewood, California, US. Photo: Patrick T Fallon/Bloomberg

Shoppers leave a Walmart store in Lakewood, California, US. Photo: Patrick T Fallon/Bloomberg

A worker stocks the shelves of a Walmart store in the Uptown Mall in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Photo: James MacDonald/Bloomberg

A worker stocks the shelves of a Walmart store in the Uptown Mall in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Photo: James MacDonald/Bloomberg

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Shoppers leave a Walmart store in Lakewood, California, US. Photo: Patrick T Fallon/Bloomberg

Walmart and Target plan to begin offering deals and price-matching offers earlier this year to keep up with Americans pressed by soaring inflation and looking for ways to ease the potential sting of holiday shopping.

Experts believe inflation that is hovering near four-decade highs could push families to get an earlier start on shopping in the hope of avoiding even higher prices later.

The holiday sales strategies, announced Thursday, come amid what is expected to be slower holiday sales growth compared with a year ago.

AlixPartners, the global consulting firm, forecasts that holiday sales will be up anywhere from 4pc to 7pc – far below last year’s growth of 16pc.

The current inflation rate of 8.3pc means retailers would see a decrease in real sales.

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, is also expanding the window for returns by more than a month.

Gift returns will now be accepted between October 1 and January 31, compared with last year’s return window of November 1 to January 24, the company said.

Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, is offering a wider assortment of items this year with more new brands and more Walmart-exclusives than a year ago, according to Tom Ward, the company’s chief e-commerce officer.

The company is also deepening discounts on such items as toys, home goods, electronics and beauty.

It said that more than half the items on Walmart’s list of expected hot holiday toys are under $50 (€50.80) – with many under $25 – and nearly all of them are available to shop now or through pre-order on
walmart.com.

Target, based in Minneapolis, said it will begin offering holiday deals between October 6 and October 8, a few days earlier than a year ago.

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It will begin price matching in the same period – also a couple of days early.

Target has one of the most generous price-matching offers in retail, countering offers from more than two dozen other stores.

That also applies to purchases at Target.com.

Target plans to hire up to 100,000 seasonal employees in stores and distribution centres, in line with a year ago.

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

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


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