USA TODAY US Edition
Walmart revamps its Black Friday season
Walmart is getting ready for a different holiday season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The retailer announced plans Wednesday to meet the demands of increased online shopping, gift availability and how it is preparing stores for “safe shopping.”
Walmart is “promising an all-new Black Friday experience” and says it “will spread traditional Black Friday savings throughout the season,” with more deals available online.
While Walmart says the savings will start earlier than ever, the full details on its Black Friday experience weren’t unveiled Wednesday.
However, the retailer said it was hiring 20,000 seasonal workers for its eCommerce fulfillment centers, including order fillers and power equipment operators.
The temporary positions are posted at www.walmartcareers.com/fcjobs and can also be applied for by texting FC to 240240.
Greg Smith, Walmart’s U.S. executive vice president of supply chain, said in a news release that as more shoppers “turn to online shopping, we want to ensure we’re staffed and ready to help deliver that special gift to their loved ones while continuing to fulfill our customer’s everyday needs.”
The starting hourly rate for the seasonal jobs will range from $15.75 to $23.75 based on location, position and schedule.
Over the past six months, Walmart says it has hired more than 500,000 new employees across the company “to ensure the retailer could provide essential items to customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Different holiday season, different gifts
Walmart hinted at the different holiday season in July, when it announced stores would be closed on Thanksgiving for the first time since the late 1980s.
Home Depot, Target and Best Buy have said they will start offering deals for the holiday season earlier to reduce crowds and to spread out demand amid COVID-19.
Scott McCall, Walmart’s U.S. executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, said in the release that customers have been shopping differently over the past six months.
That is expected to continue into the holiday season.
“We’ve heard from our customers that many plan on starting their holiday shopping well before Black
Friday, and that they’re looking for gifts that fit their current lifestyle,” McCall said. “So, we’ve adjusted our strategy to adapt to these new shopping preferences – we’re offering more of what they want now, earlier than ever, and all at the best prices.”
The retailer is “increasing availability of unexpected holiday gifts that reflect lifestyles in this ‘new normal,’ including athleisure, loungewear and sleepwear for the family, outdoor grills, bicycles and exercise equipment and outdoor sporting equipment.”
Walmart says it has also increased inventory of traditional gifts, including electronics with a “focus on TVs, laptops and video games” and will have over 1,300 new toys .
There also will be a larger assortment of supply of pet products and Walmart says it’s “ready to sell over 3 million comfy pet beds.”
“We’ve heard that many plan on starting their holiday shopping well before Black Friday.” Scott McCall, Walmart’s chief merchandising officer