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Inside the Wal-Mart vs. Amazon Battle Over Black Friday

27 November 2017

From The Wall Street Journal:

As more holiday sales shift online, both retailers use new tactics, play to their strengths

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. battled to capture spending over the holiday weekend, as the shifts that have upended the retail industry this year were on display: fewer people visited traditional stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday while online purchases continued to surge.

On Thanksgiving evening, Alex and Yanira Garcia, who say they traditionally buy nearly everything on Amazon, chose to stand in line at a busy Wal-Mart store in Westbury, N.Y., to purchase pajamas, toys, a TV and other gifts that filled two shopping carts.

“I heard that lots of stores are giving you deals so you come in the store,” said Mr. Garcia, a 39-year-old cook at an elementary school. “So here we are.”

The number of people visiting U.S. stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday fell 4% from last year, according to RetailNext Inc., which analyzes in-store videos to count shoppers. Meanwhile, online sales increased 18% over that period, said software company Adobe Systems Inc., a shift that is forcing traditional retailers to adopt new tactics.

. . . .

Wal-Mart also calibrated the selection of discounted products it offers online versus in stores, U.S. CEO Greg Foran said in an interview.

Online, the retailer offered more electronics and bulky toys that customers want shipped to homes, then stocked stores with additional lower-priced deals like $5 DVDs, pajamas and other items customers prefer buying immediately or are unprofitable to ship, Mr. Foran said.

In stores, “is [Black Friday] the mayhem that it might have been eight or 10 years ago?” Mr. Foran said on Thanksgiving. “I think that world is gone.”

. . . .

Rosa Hilburn, 58, was among the first people inside a Target in Houston on Black Friday morning, but she was in and out in minutes with only a small bag of loot—several shirts and a Garth Brooks album for her husband.

Ms. Hilburn said she was “really shocked” there weren’t more people at the store but attributed it to the changing times. “Most people do it online now like the millennials,” she said. “But I still like to see and touch things.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)


8 Comments to “Inside the Wal-Mart vs. Amazon Battle Over Black Friday”

  1. My total Black Friday purchase at WalMart was a pair of track pants reduced from $6 to $4! It wasn’t that they were sold out of the other items I saw in their flyer, they never had them in stock in the first place. Perhaps it’s a special case for my local (smaller than average) WalMart but my general observation is their much vaunted inventory management has gone to shit over the last few years. So I went home and checked Amazon and got everything I wanted at least as cheap as WalMart were advertising.

    TL:DR Amazon 1, WalMart 0

  2. I wouldn’t go to Walmart for black friday sales because people in my area are crazy. I went ONCE and saw the aftermath of a woman who had been trampled. Maybe she just fell. Who knows?

    But I did go shopping elsewhere and found what I needed in a very short amount of time. Lots of stuff out there but not what I wanted or needed. I do plan on hitting up Amazon for some stuff but haven’t done it yet.

  3. Amazon was doing Gray Friday weeks before the day came, Wal-mart stocks 3-5 each of their ‘on sale’ items and hopes their bait-n-switch will pull the fools in yet again.

    None of my cars were started Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday for that matter …

  4. In recent years, I’ve made it a policy not to do Christmas shopping in any store that’s open on Thanksgiving Day. If they can’t respect their employees enough to let them have the entire day off, they get none of Christmas shopping dollars.

    • Suzie Quint, Good for you. I applaud your choice.

    • A few years ago we were hanging around my in-laws on Thanksgiving day and decided to go out to the local best-buy at around 6pm. We were attracted by the great discount on 7 inch Amazon Fire tablets – $89! We bought two.

      I asked various employees how they felt about working on Thanksgiving. Every one I talked to was enthusiastic about it – they got double-time for working the shift, were doing so voluntarily and, apparently, had to compete for a chance to do so.

      Plenty of people work on Thanksgiving day. Gas station attendants. Restaurant workers. Medical, police and fire. Most of the grocery stores in my area are open Thanksgiving day. There are people driving buses and trains. Planes fly, and all of the supporting personnel are on duty. Movie theaters are open and staffed.

      I’m not too chuffed about workers in a retail store being on the job. Whether or not they are is their business, not mine.

    • Long ago when I worked on the railroad, holidays were a great deal. I’d work a double shift of 16 hours, getting time-and-a-half for the second shift. That equated to 20 straight time hours. But, since it was a holiday, it was all double time. So, my 16 hour shift earned 40 hours straight time.

    • Since moving here to SLC, I’ve lived pretty much on my own. When I had a job, I’d often volunteer to work holidays. The extra pay was nice, and what was I going to do alone at home on that holiday besides write? If I could get a ride to/from work, and I usually could, it was worth it to me to work the holiday.

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