Wal-Mart is throwing 20,000 parties in its stores across the country in an attempt to attract more holiday shoppers. According to a company press release, the parties will take place on Nov. 4, Dec. 2 and Dec. 16, and will include 165,000 in-store toy demos, visits from Santa and other activities. The Nov. 4 party will focus on toys, and the parties on Dec. 2 and Dec.16 will focus on entertaining and popular gift ideas, respectively. The party idea is part of Wal-Mart's larger holiday shopping campaign called "Rock This Christmas," which includes increasing the number of sale items in-store and online; tripling its online assortment; selling items from national brands that weren't previously available; and bringing back festively dressed employees, aka "Holiday Helpers," to assist shoppers navigate stores. Also during this holiday season, Wal-Mart is offering free two-day shipping for more than 2 million items on orders over $35, as well as the Pickup Discount, which encourages customers with savings to shop online-only items and then ship them to a Wal-Mart store for free pickup.
Total Retail's Take: Let the holidays begin! Clearly, big-box retail is serious about competing with Amazon.com this year, whether through online or in-store strategies, and Wal-Mart is no exception. In fact, Wal-Mart's announcement follows rival Target, which last week announced holiday plans that include weekend deals, 400 new and exclusive toys, and free shipping from Nov. 1 to Dec. 23. In general, retailers are gearing up for an expected happy holiday season. Consulting firm PwC said consumers will spend 6 percent more this year on holiday gifts than they did in 2016.