This year, Black Friday will start on Thursday.
Walmart will offer deals on toys, home and apparel starting at 10:00pm Thanksgiving day, a full two hours before the midnight openings of other retailers such as Macy's and Target, CNNMoney reports. Though consumer spending rose 0.6 percent in October, retailers are likely offering consumers the chance to start their discounted shopping early in hopes the upward trend will continue.
"Our customers told us they would rather stay up late to shop than get up early, so we're going to hold special events on Thanksgiving and Black Friday," Duncan Mac Naughton, Walmart's chief merchandising officer, said in a statement.
With experts expecting holiday spending to be down this year, retailers are at the mercy of their customers and may be willing to do just about anything to get them into stores. A recent survey by consumer information site BIGinsight found that 38.5 percent of adults plan to spend less than they did last year on holiday shopping. In addition, more than one-quarter of Americans said rising food prices would push them to cut back "somewhat" on holiday shopping. As a result, many shoppers have started shopping early and online as a comparison.
"It is going to be a dogfight," Bernstein analyst Colin McGranahan told Reuters of the retail competition over TV deals. "Everyone's going to be fighting because demand is not great."
Competition is also likely to get heated among retailers looking to lure customers to their websites. Nearly half of holiday shoppers say they expect to do it online, according to CNNMoney. Amazon and Walmart, are already fighting what one financial expert calls "the battle of the titans."
Walmart recently decided to open two smaller web-driven Walmart.com outlets at malls in Southern California, which some interpret as a bid to bite into Amazon's online market share. For its part, Amazon has started its Black Friday countdown, providing customers daily with information on upcoming deals, The Daily Mail reports.
Walmart, for all its Black Friday promotions -- including posting maps on its website and on Facebook showing in-store locations of sale items -- may be outdone only by Disney in terms of preparation. The retail arm of the entertainment company has been planning for Black Friday -- which it prefers to call Magical Friday -- since March, and expects 1.5 million shoppers at its 210 nationwide locations on the day, Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.