Black Friday Is Already Underway as Walmart Pushes Cyber Sunday Deals

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Walmart Black Friday 2015

As US retailers debate whether to ask employees to work on Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, with the outdoorsy REI, for one, gaining a lot of attention for giving employees the day off. Indeed, it’s been a few years now since online and mobile shopping have shifted spending from the day after Thanksgiving earlier and earlier, with Cyber Monday turning into a week of pre- and post-turkey deals.

Some retail brands, such as Macy’s, Best Buy, Target, Sears, Toys R Us and Walmart, are opening at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day. Old Navy is opening its doors at 4pm (with the added incentive of a random million-dollar giveaway to lure shoppers in the US and Canada on Thursday) as it’s been promoting in an amusing campaign starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kumail Nanjiani and Snoop Dogg.

In recent years, of course, many people have waited to do their shopping on Cyber Monday when online deals have popped up and consumers haven’t had to walk (or drive) from big-box store to big-box store to comparison-shop. Instead, all they’ve needed is an itchy thumb and a access to a computer or smartphone.

Now that Cyber Monday has grown so massive, with sales in America expected to reach $3 billion this year, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer by revenue, has decided to one-up its competition by moving its Cyber Monday online deals a day earlier in the hopes of being the first dog to the bowl for America’s online holiday expenditures.

Walmart—which has been promoting its holiday sales in a musical campaign with comedian Craig Robinson—has announced 2,000 online deals (quadrupling last year’s deals) that will start popping up to holiday shoppers at 8pm on Sunday evening, avoiding the “midnight madness” rush of years gone by.

As Reuters notes, last year Walmart offered “teaser” deals on a day before Cyber Monday but this year it’s moving the whole event up a day in recognition of the fact that online shoppers start searching for Cyber Monday deals on Sunday afternoon. In a further data-driven move, customer searches on Walmart.com will also help determine which deals it will offer this coming weekend.

“When Cyber Monday was originated many, many years ago people didn’t have access to the high-speed Internet at their homes or easy access (to it),” Fernando Madeira, President and CEO of Walmart.com, told USA Today. “Now that the Internet is everywhere with smartphones and broadband connections… it doesn’t make any sense to stay awake just to have access to the early, best special deals during Cyber Monday.”

Will the move to create a Cyber Sunday be enough for Walmart to make any dent in the revenue of online-retail Godzilla Amazon, which started offering its Black Friday deals on November 20th? The Arkansas-based retailer is certainly hoping so.

Gap Black Friday sale 2015

Amazon isn’t the only one already promoting so-called Black Friday deals. Retail siblings Old Navy (millionaire-marketing notwithstanding) and Gap started offering 40% off to shoppers and 50% off to cardholders this past weekend while Kohl’s today launched its Black Friday deals online and 15% off site-wide sale.

Kohl's Black Friday deals 2015

Target, meanwhile, is dangling a sitewide 15 percent off on Cyber Monday. That’ll be the first time the bullseye band has discounted its entire site simultaneously. In addition to that, other deals will add onto the 15 percent. The retailer promises those kinds of deals will be happening all Cyber Week.

At this rate, it won’t be long until December is rebranded Cyber Month, prompting a counter-offensive Black November month-long sales event as retailers jockey to beat each other to holiday shoppers’ phones and laptops.

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