Wal-Mart kicks off battle for Black Friday shoppers

Jae C. Hong/AP - The world’s largest retailer is throwing its doors open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, two hours earlier than a year ago.

Wal-Mart is kicking off the rush to secure Black Friday shoppers, offering deep discounts starting at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day — two hours earlier than last year.

The giant retailer is staggering its deals throughout the day, betting that customers will either linger at the store or come back more than once.

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The first round of discounts begin at 8 p.m. on Nov. 22 and include Wii consoles ($89), mens’ and womens’ jeans ($9.50) and home appliances, including 6-quart crock posts and 12-cup coffeemakers ($9.44 each).

At 10 p.m. electronics including 8GB Nook Color Tablets ($99) and Beats by Dr. Dre Headphones ($179.95) will go on sale.

Customers in line inside a Wal-Mart store between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving are guaranteed access to some of the best deals: an Apple iPad 2 ($399, plus a $75 Wal-Mart gift card), Emerson 32” LCD TV ($148) and an LG Blu-ray player ($38).

“We bought deep, very deep, and we bought deep on items that matter to our customers,” Duncan Mac Naughton, Wal-Mart’s U.S. chief merchandising and marketing officer, said in a conference call with reporters this week.

The last round of sales will kick off at 5 a.m. on Black Friday, with discounts on jewelry (a 1/3 carat diamond ring for $198), Goodyear tires ($59 to $99) and recliners ($199).

Retailers are expected to roll out aggressive sales earlier this holiday season to lure consumers. Average shoppers are projected to spend only $9 more this season than the $740 they shelled out last year, according to a survey by BIGinsight. The National Retail Federation is predicting sales growth of 4.1 percent, compared with a 5.6 percent rise last year.

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