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Walmart Takes a Match to Black Friday

12 Nov, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Retailer selling LG Blu-ray Disc player for $35, DVD movies for $1.96 on Thanksgiving evening

Leave it to the world’s largest retailer to turn the annual post-Thanksgiving Black Friday retail holiday on its head — and into a five-day orgy.

Walmart Nov. 12 announced it would extend steep price discounting across five days — instead of just the day after Thanksgiving — with guaranteed online price matching set to begin Nov. 14.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer, which is looking to shore up softening sales due to increased competition from dollar stores, Target and online merchants such as Amazon, found that consumers have tired of the long lines and frenzy associated with the early morning crush on Black Friday. It hopes the spread-out discounts across multiple days will have a calming effect on consumers.

Walmart sold to 22 million consumers on Thanksgiving Day in 2013. With this year’s Black Friday deals beginning Thursday evening and lasting through Monday, Walmart is predicting that more families — adults and kids — will flock to its digital and physical outlets.

“It used to be called Black Friday, then it became Thursday, now it’s a week long,” Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer of Walmart U.S., told The Wall Street Journal. “Maybe we should just call it November.”

For home entertainment, Walmart will again offer arguably the lowest retail price for a Blu-ray Disc player at $35 (for one hour only on Thanksgiving at 6 p.m.) for an LG model. A Sony BD player goes on sale for $45 two hours later at 8 p.m. Target is selling a wireless Sony BD player for $49.99 on Black Friday.

Customers in the designated areas of Walmart stores between 6 and 7 p.m. on Nov. 27 can purchase the gift they want and either take it home that night or receive it at a store before Christmas.

The retailer infamously ushered in the packaged-media retail market and DVD craze in 2003 when it sold a disc player on Black Friday for $39 — prompting consumer stampedes in some stores.

Walmart will again offer more than 200 catalog DVD movies for $1.96 each, with another 165 titles priced at $3.96. Blu-ray catalog titles (113 of them) will be priced at $3.96, with 103 more recent releases priced at $6.96 each.

Even better, new-release DVD copies of DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s Maleficent will retail for $7.96 each. Target and Best Buy are selling Blu-ray copies of the movies for $10.

Walmart is also selling 89 complete seasons of select TV shows, including “The Big Bang Theory,” “Homeland,” “The Walking Dead,” “Modern Family,” "Supernatural” and “American Horror Story,” among others, for $9.96 each.

Compared to 2013, Walmart has lowered the prices on select Black Friday items. For example, last year a Vizio 60=inch Smart TV sold for $688. This year a 65-inch Vizio Smart TV will be available for $648 for one hour. The Xbox One, available last year for $499, will be sold this year (for one hour) as a bundle for $329 with a $30 Walmart Gift Card.

The retailer also increased Black Friday inventory in most categories. For example, Walmart is tripling the amount of PlayStation 4 and other gaming consoles available and is offering 30% more smartphones, mobile accessories and other wireless offerings.

“Black Friday is no longer about waking up at the crack of dawn to stand in long lines and hope for the best,” Mac Naughton said in a statement.

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