Online holiday shopping war begins

Put away the pumpkins and bring out the stockings.

Wal-Mart declared the holiday shopping season open by kicking off a selection of online deals Friday, nearly a month ahead of its usual Thanksgiving schedule. The offers, called “Early Bird Online Specials,” included discounts on TVs, tablets and toys usually reserved for Black Friday. (A 42-inch JVC television for $300 had already sold out online by 10 a.m.)

Wal-Mart’s move is the latest sign that retailers are trying to make the most of a shortened holiday season through early promotions and aggressive marketing. There are six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.

“We chose November 1 because, historically, we see a spike in online traffic the day after Halloween,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Ravi Jariwala.

But Wal-Mart is not alone. A slew of major retailers announced early holiday discounts this week.

Target said its “Price Match Policy” — where it matches competitor’s prices for certain items — launched Friday as usual, but will last longer this year. Toys R Us unveiled offers for loyalty program customers, including a pre-Black Friday deal that would give shoppers access to discounts two days before the event. Last month, Macy’s, J.C. Penney and other stores have said they will open on Thanksgiving Day for the first time.

Apart from facing a short holiday season, retailers have to convince Americans to open their wallets in a gloomy economy. Consumer confidence took a plunge last month, following the government shutdown and a weak jobs report.

The back-to-school shopping season was lackluster for retailers, and shoppers are expected to remain cautious this holiday season. Free shipping, online deals and personalized offers are some of the ways they will try to make up for it, analysts say.

Holiday sales are forecast to rise nearly 4 percent this year, up from 3.5 percent in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation. Online sales are expected to be 15 percent higher than last year.

More in Herald Business Journal

Peoples, HomeStreet banks bump lowest salaries after tax cut

The banks with Snohomish County branches will raise minimum salaries for employees to $15 an hour.

Electroimpact cuts Mukilteo staff by 9 percent

“What we’re missing now is a monster anchor project,” the company’s VP said.

Exotic animals find compassionate care in Bothell (video)

At the Center for Bird and Exotic Animal Medicine, vets treat snakes, hedgehogs and even kangaroos.

How can you tell if you are getting good financial advice?

Assume that it’s still the same buyer-beware market that has always existed.

Amanda Strong (left) tries on an Angel of the Winds Arena hat as she and Courtney Brown hand out gift bags after the renaming ceremony Dec. 13 in Everett. The new name replaces the Xfinity name. (Andy Bronson / Her file)
Angel of the Winds to break ground on $60M casino expansion

“We think we’re on the cusp of becoming a major resort.”

In this Dec. 20, 2017, photo, a clerk reaches to a shelf to pick an item for a customer order at the Amazon Prime warehouse, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Amazon’s potential HQ2 sites leaves many cities disappointed

And yet, some municipal leaders are looking at the bright side of being rejected.

How do you retrieve an errant Boeing 737 from a muddy slope?

Turkish authorities used cranes to lift a plane that skidded off a runway.

Don’t take economic forecasts to the bank — or the casino

Air travel delays could spur a rebirth of passenger rail service.

Emirates orders 20 more Airbus A380 jumbos, saving program

The Dubai carrier also has options to buy 16 more. The program seems safe until 2029.

Most Read