Updated! The other shoe — and most impactful Black Friday ad — has dropped.
Three days after Best Buy revealed its Thanksgiving weekend plans, No. 2 CE chain Walmart fired back with a Black Friday sales salvo that’s heavy on tech in general and TV in particular.
Indeed, the first 10 pages of the discounter’s 32-page circular — released last midnight to Walmart mobile app users — is CE-specific, and the first three pages are dominated by televisions.
The lead items are a pair of tier-two HDTVs, priced at $269 for a 50-inch set and $149 for a 40-inch model.
Name-brand sets begin on p. 2 with a 70-inch 1080p Vizio LED TV for $898, reduced from $1,198, accompanied by soundbars, mounting brackets and HDMI cable, while Walmart brings out the big guns on p. 3 with a 55-inch curved Samsung smart 4K/UltraHD TV (model UN55JU6700) for $100 more, also reduced from $1,198.
The sale begins in stores at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving evening (hours will vary by location), and online early that morning at 3:01 a.m.
Fully 96 percent of the promotional assortment will be available through both channels, executives said on a holiday conference call, although Walmart.com will also have its own exclusive inventory, including a 60-inch Samsung 4K/Ultra HD TV for $900. But unlike Best Buy and Target, which are providing free shipping on all holiday orders, Walmart.com will require a $50 minimum order before picking up the delivery tab.
On the call, recently appointed Walmart chief merchandising officer Steve Bratspies acknowledged that Walmart merchants “bought deep on TVs” for Black Friday — with more than 1 million units and over 15 million movies in stock — to ensure that each sale item will be available to hundreds of customers per store, rather than just a handful.
The buildup comes as the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) forecasts a meager holiday season for TV, with just 17 percent of video buyers planning to purchase one, according to a study by the trade group. In a presentation earlier this week at CES Unveiled in New York, CTA chief economist Sean DuBravac described “less interest in TV” by consumers amid increasing strength in smaller-ticket mobile and emerging tech products.
Elsewhere, Walmart is bringing back for a fourth year its one-hour in-store sale, when select items are guaranteed to be available for purchase. This go-around will be more limited, however, in that the staggered sales of the past (including a CE-specific promotion) will be limited to a single one-hour event, beginning at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, while the number of guaranteed products will be reduced from nine last year to five.
Not surprisingly, the five SKUs are all CE, and include:
*an LG 55-inch smart 4K/Ultra HD TV for $698 (a $300 savings);
*Apple’s iPad Air 2 Gold 16GB Wi-Fi tablet for $399 (a $100 savings);
*Beats’ Studio headphones for $169 (a $130.95 savings);
*an Xbox One 500GB “Gears of War” bundle with a $30 store credit for $299 (a $50 savings); and
*a 15.6-inch HP touch laptop with a 500GB hard drive, 4GB of memory and an Intel Celeron processor for $249.
Bratspies said the narrower sales window was prompted by feedback from consumers who said they wanted a simpler, less complicated shopping experience, making “deals, availability and simplicity” the tenets of Walmart’s holiday strategy this year.
To that end, wristbands will be handed out for the most popular doorbuster items; store maps will be available online and via the mobile app; and customers can purchase wireless phones while on sale and activate them the following day by appointment.
The company added that store workers will be rewarded for their Thanksgiving Day efforts with additional pay, free dinner and a 25 percent discount (15 percent for seasonal temps) on a “basket of goods.”
For those without the Walmart app, the complete holiday ad is available here, courtesy of BlackFriday.com.
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