Walmart and Target plan to start offering deals and price-match deals early this year to keep up with Americans pressured by skyrocketing inflation and looking for ways to ease the potential pain of holiday shopping.
For two years now, shoppers have started preparing for the holidays in advance, but last year it was because the global supply chain had been thrown into turmoil as nations began to emerge from the pandemic. This year, experts believe it is rapidly rising prices, also tied to economies hit by the pandemic, that will prompt Americans to shop early to avoid prices they think could rise further and spread spending as they go. They pay more for gasoline. food, and almost everything else.
The holiday sales strategies, announced Thursday, come amid what is expected to be slower growth in holiday sales compared to a year ago. AlixPartners, the global consultancy, forecasts that holiday sales will increase between 4% and 7%, well below last year’s 16% growth. The current inflation rate of 8.3% means that retailers would see a decline in actual sales.
Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, is also extending the returns window by more than a month. Gift returns will now be accepted between October 1 and January 31, compared to last year’s return window of November 1 to January 24, the company said.
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart is offering a wider variety of items this year with more new and more exclusive Walmart brands than it did a year ago, according to Tom Ward, the company’s director of e-commerce. The company is deepening discounts on items like toys, home goods, electronics and beauty. He said more than half of the toys on Walmart’s list of popular holiday toys are under $50, with many under $25, and almost all of the toys are available for purchase now or through pre-order. at walmart.com.
Minneapolis-based Target said it will start offering holiday deals Oct. 6-8, a few days earlier than a year ago, and start price matching then, also a couple days earlier.
Target has one of the most generous price match offers in retail, offsetting 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 centers this holiday season, in line with what happened a year ago.
Walmart is taking a more cautious approach to hiring this year, saying this week it would hire 40,000 US workers for the holidays, most of them seasonal workers.
Last year, Walmart said it would hire roughly 150,000 new U.S. store workers, most of them in permanent full-time positions, in addition to the 20,000 permanent distribution and warehouse workers, as the pandemic disrupted supply chains.