Wal-Mart Jumpstarts Holiday Discounts This Week

Wal-Mart Stores said Wednesday it will begin offering this week the type of holiday discounts it typically reserves for "Black Friday" -- the day after Thanksgiving that typically marks the start of the ultra-competitive holiday shopping season.

The world's largest retailer said that Thursday it will list special deals on its Web site, like an Acer Aspire laptop with a 14-inch LCD screen for $348.

Customers will then be able to buy the products in its stores starting on Friday.

Wal-Mart has said it intends to be aggressive this holiday season to boost sales at its U.S. stores.

It is trying to reassert itself as a low-price retailer and appeal to shoppers who are being squeezed by high energy and food costs, the unstable real estate market and a credit crunch. Last year the company downplayed its discount roots in an effort to attract more business from higher-income shoppers.

Wal-Mart began reducing prices on popular toys in September, and earlier this month said it cut prices on 15,000 items, 20 percent more than at the same point a year before.

At its analyst meeting last week, Wal-Mart said it was doing "very, very well" selling Halloween merchandise and candy, and was confident in its Christmas plans.


"When it comes to Christmas, you're going to see [a very different look] from Wal-Mart because you're going to see an increased effort behind presentation," Eduardo Castro-Wright, head of its U.S. operations, said at the meeting.

The retailer is opening Christmas shops in its stores that will sell holiday decor and gifts, and offer product demonstrations.