Walmart likes to roll back prices, and now the world's largest retailer also is rolling back Black Friday — into Thanksgiving Day.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer will offer "Black Friday" deals on iPads and TVs at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday and 5 a.m. Friday while introducing a new gimmick to lure shoppers away from dinner tables and family gatherings.
Walmart's "One-Hour Guarantee" promises that shoppers inside stores and in line between 10 and 11 p.m. on Nov. 22 can purchase a 16GB Apple iPad with Wi-Fi for $399 and get a $75 Walmart Gift Card. The guarantee also includes a 32-inch Emerson LCD TV for $148 and a LG Blu-ray player for $38.
If the three items sell out before 11 p.m., Walmart will offer customers a guarantee card. Items must be paid for by midnight and registered online and then they will be shipped to stores for pickup before Christmas.
"We know it's frustrating for customers to shop on Black Friday and not get the items they want," says Duncan Mac Naughton, Walmart's chief merchandising and marketing officer, in a release. "This year, for the first time ever, customers that shop during Walmart's one-hour event will be guaranteed to have three of the most popular items under their tree at a great low price."
The strategy may lure early bargain-happy shoppers in South Florida.
Christine Neely, 32, of Boca Raton, and her sister, Dawn Mathews, 30, of Deerfield Beach, plan to be in line at 7 p.m. to get the iPad and TV.
"This is an amazing deal. To get a $75 gift card is huge savings on an Apple product," says Neely.
She's been planning her Black Friday strategy with her two sisters and a friend for three weeks. Target and Toys R Us also are on their must-hit list.
"My sister and I are planning on getting there at 7 p.m. to get in line. You're not going to get this deal at Apple. You know you are guaranteed to get the items you go for. That's a big plus. But I wonder how the lines are going to work. That's the big question."
Many retailers are devising fresh ways to lure shoppers this year as holiday spending is expected to rise only 4.1 percent, according to the National Retail Federation. That's down from 5.6 percent growth in 2011.
The holiday shopping season traditionally kicks off before dawn on the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday. This year's trend is to lure midnight shoppers into stores on Thursday evening, bellies full from holiday feasts.
Sears will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving and stay open overnight until 10 p.m. on Black Friday. Kmart will be open on Thanksgiving as it has been for 21 years.
Consumer electronics retailer BrandsMart U.S.A. will open its seven South Florida stores at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, says Bobby Johnson, COO.
Sawgrass Mills, the 350-store outlet mega-mall in Sunrise, has announced a 9 p.m. Thanksgiving opening and says it will leave the lights on more than 24 hours.
Some big-box retailers are keeping with tradition.
Best Buy, Macy's and Kohl's plan to open at midnight again. Target has not announced plans. Last year, the retailers were closed on Thanksgiving and kicked off Black Friday sales at midnight.
Walmart keeps stores open overnight between Thanksgiving and Black Friday after an employee was trampled to death in Long Island on Black Friday in 2008.
Reuters supplemented this report.