Walmart has increased inventory in electronics, with a focus on TVs, laptops and video games, in preparation for a holiday sales season that it plans to start early, the retailer says.
This also marks the first holiday season that physical media — DVDs, Blu-ray Discs and 4K Ultra HD — will be under lock-and-key in glass-walled display cases, a move the chain has taken over the past year for items that either command high prices (such as video game consoles) or can be easily stolen.
Walmart research showed 87% of customers who shopped the chain over the past six months say they plan to seek out deals and great prices earlier this year to better prepare for the holiday season, with one in three customers planning to start their holiday shopping before early November.
The retailer announced plans to address three key shopping trends expected for a unique holiday season: an increase in online shopping, evolving wish lists, and the need for a fast, easy and safe shopping experience.
“Over the past six months, our customers have been shopping differently, and we expect that will continue into the most important shopping season of the year — the holidays,” Scott McCall, EVP and chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S., said in a statement. “We’ve heard from our customers that many plan on starting their holiday shopping well before Black Friday and that they’re looking for gifts that fit their current lifestyle. So, we’ve adjusted our strategy to adapt to these new shopping preferences — we’re offering more of what they want now, earlier than ever, and all at the best prices.”
Walmart is “promising an all-new Black Friday experience,” according to a press release, spreading traditional Black Friday savings throughout the season and will have more deals available online. More details will be shared soon, according to the press release.
To prepare for an expected increase in online shopping this holiday season, Walmart will hire more than 20,000 seasonal associates in its e-commerce fulfillment centers across the country, the company announced.
“The holidays are always a special time, and this year, we think the season will mean even more to our customers. As more of them turn to online shopping, we want to ensure we’re staffed and ready to help deliver that special gift to their loved ones while continuing to fulfill our customer’s everyday needs,” Greg Smith, EVP for supply chain for Walmart U.S., said in a statement. “We’re also proud to be able to continue to provide employment opportunities across the country when it’s needed most.”
In addition to electronics, the retailer is increasing availability of unexpected holiday gifts that reflect lifestyles in the “new normal,” according to the company. They include merchandise in athleisure, loungewear and sleepwear for the family, outdoor grills, bicycles and exercise equipment, outdoor sporting equipment, pet items and kitchen items.
Over the past six months, the retailer has taken steps to help ensure a safe in-store shopping experience for both its customers and associates, which will continue through the holiday season, according to the company, including:
- Reduced Store Hours: Walmart stores, Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets will continue to be closed to customers overnight to give associates extra time to clean and sanitize stores and stock shelves.
- Required Face Coverings: Associates and customers will continue to be required to wear masks or other face coverings while in Walmart stores.
- Sneeze Guards: Plastic barriers will remain in Walmart pharmacies, at checkouts and at other points of sale to distance customers and associates.
- Traffic Management: To manage customer flow and traffic, Walmart has vestibules divided into separate entrances and exits, social distancing floor decals and airs overhead announcements urging proper hygiene and the need to socially distance.
Other initiatives include:
- Contactless pickup and delivery services such as pickup and delivery on more than 160,000 items that can be picked up or delivered as soon as the same day; express delivery on a wide assortment of items delivered within two hours, pending eligibility and customer location; and free next-day or free two-day shipping on online orders of more than $35, pending eligibility and customer location.
- Contactless payment in stores: Customers can pay in a Walmart store contact-free on any register when using Walmart Pay via the Walmart app.
- Walmart+ benefits: Customers can also sign up for a Walmart+ membership for $98 a year. With the membership, they receive unlimited free delivery from stores (including on gifts, such as electronics and toys), fuel discounts and access to tools such as Scan & Go that lets customers scan their items as they shop and pay using Walmart Pay.