Walmart will spread Black Friday deals over multiple days as retailers try new ways to drive holiday traffic

Walmart is offering Black Friday promotions throughout November

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Among the many COVID-19-related changes to this holiday shopping season, retailers are moving away from a big Black Friday promotional event in favor of multiple days when shoppers can enjoy the savings they would usually see the day after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Walmart Inc.
said Wednesday that it will offer “Black Friday Deals for Days” throughout November, both online and in stores. There are three events planned, starting online on Nov. 4.

“By spreading deals out across multiple days and making our
hottest deals available online, we expect the Black Friday experience in our
stores will be safer and more manageable for both our customers and our
associates,” said Scott McCall, chief
merchandising officer for Walmart U.S., in a statement.

Walmart stores will open at 5 a.m. on Black Friday, Nov. 27, with “health ambassadors” reminding customers to wear masks, and crowds kept at a level to help with social distancing.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc.
said Tuesday that it would be offering deals throughout November. Target Corp.
will also offer deals spanning the month.

See: Amazon Prime Day could generate nearly $10 billion in sales, experts forecast

“We are not expecting long lines on Black Friday morning, but we expect an active and engaged guest,” Target’s Chief Executive Brian Cornell said on a call with reporters last month.

Data from global market research company Lucid shows that
only 25% of U.S. respondents it polled are “comfortable” shopping indoors for
holiday gifts this year.

Retailers have reported huge leaps in their e-commerce business since the start of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, with many customers opting for curbside pickup or some other contactless service. Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.
has introduced these sorts of services, and said in a Tuesday announcement that they have been popular.

“Customers are responding well to the introduction of our
new omni-always services, and we will continue to invest in our digital-first
experience with a customer-inspired assortment that makes it easy to feel at
home with Bed Bath & Beyond,” Mark Tritton, Bed Bath & Beyond’s
chief executive, said in a statement.

Moody’s says retailers have to get “creative” during this unique holiday season.

And: Bed Bath & Beyond shares jump after sale of two businesses

“[T]he delay in Amazon’s Prime Day promotion has pushed back the usual competing events that normally occur in earnest during the summer, with the end result Prime Day is effectively serving to ‘kick start’ this holiday season in mid-October, turning what is typically a marathon season into a much longer race,” said Charlie O’Shea, Moody’s retail analyst. Inc.’s
Prime Day wraps up Wednesday Oct. 14. The event has spurred a number of retailers to host their own competing deals, which has happened in the past as well.

Some experts says offering too many deals is bad business.

“Flashy sale ‘holidays’ are a glaring example of everything
that is wrong with the retail industry, especially amid today’s pandemic. It’s
a completely messed up system; a total race to the bottom,” said Tien Tzuo, chief
executive of Zuora, a company that helps other businesses manage their subscription

“Now, every day is Prime Day. It’s woven into the fabric of our lives.”

Watch: Why retail bankruptcies won’t necessarily create a ‘retail apocalypse’

Even if promotions are easy to find, that doesn’t seem to stop consumers from seeking out a good deal for the holidays. According to the Amazon Prime Day Tracker from consumer insights company Numerator, 30% of shoppers have purchased holiday gifts during Prime Day so far.

Ninety-one percent of shoppers expect to purchase from Amazon again during the season.

The Amplify Online Retail ETF
has soared nearly 89% for the year to date. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF
is up almost 18%. And the benchmark S&P 500 index
has gained 8%.

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