Holiday shoppers get ready! The holiday shopping season is getting underway.
Walmart is beginning its Black Friday deals at its earliest time ever this year. St. Louis area stores will be open all day on Thursday and will begin running "Black Friday" sales at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
As the world’s largest retailer prepares for one of the most popular shopping days of the year, Patch got a sneak peak at some of the deals the store will offer shoppers, including the Wentzville and Lake Saint Louis Walmart stores. (View some of the deals in the photo portion of this article).
Walmart staff said the store is offering its best Black Friday assortment ever during three in-store events that begin Thursday night.
At 8 p.m., Walmart will kick off its Black Friday sale with with toys and video-game bargains. At 10 p.m., TVs and other electronics go on sale. At 5 a.m. Friday, sales begin that are geared toward specialty items, including jewelry, sewing machines, tires, tools, firearms and more.
Glenda Fleming Willis, Walmart’s regional general manager, told Patch that Walmart is showcasing hundreds of brand name items which are all backed by Walmart’s ad match guarantee, a competitor price matching guarantee. Customers must have a copy of the competitor's ad to receive the price match.
"As long as the customer has the item in print, then we'll honor like-for-like items. They've got to be exact items," Fleming Willis explained. "We'll run the ad match as well through the whole entire holiday season."
Since supplies often run out on Black Friday, Walmart also plans to guarantee the availability of the following three specials in stores between the hours of 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Thursday.
- $148 32-inch Emerson TV
- Apple iPad 2 (plus a $75 gift card, for $399)
- $38 LG Blu-ray player
Fleming Willis said to receive the guarantee, customers must be in line for that item by 11 p.m.
If those items sell out before 11 p.m, customers in line will get a Walmart Guarantee Card promising the items will be at the store for them to pick-up prior to Christmas. The item must be paid for by midnight Thursday and registered online by midnight Sunday night.
Fleming Willis said this is the first time Walmart has done this for a Black Friday event.
"That's a big deal," Fleming Willis said. "I feel confident that we have enough product to give the customers who are in line."
Walmart is also offering a mobile app and in-store map for shoppers this this year. It can be downloaded now at Walmart.com.
"They can actually pull up their store and see the store map and see where all the items are going to be located at, prior to coming inside the building," Fleming Willis said explained.
She also said extra security will be on hand to handle the large crowd expected for the Black Friday sales. Both uniformed officers and plain-clothed security will be in the store. Staff has also been conducting dry runs to be as prepared as possible.
"We've been working on the safety and security plans for nine months, which we typically do," Fleming Willis said. "We worked with crowd management experts throughout the industry to keep out customers safe."
Walmart will also offer online-only specials for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping period.