Wal-Mart syncs Black Friday deals online and in store

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NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores says it is offering most of the same Black Friday “doorbuster” deals online and in stores for the first time and giving online shoppers an early jump on the sales.

The world’s largest retailer is heading into the holiday season with a turnaround plan after being battered by the economy and tough competition. Wal-Mart’s U.S. CEO Greg Foran is spearheading a major overhaul of the stores that includes basics like making sure stores are cleaner and well stocked.

The busy shopping day after Thanksgiving Day known as “Black Friday” has been encroaching on the holiday in recent years. But this year Wal-Mart Stores is giving those who would rather shop on their couch in P.J.s more access to Black Friday sales. Most — about 96 percent — of deals offered the holiday will be offered both online — starting at 3:01 a.m. E.T. on Thanksgiving morning — and in stores — starting at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

That’s up from 90 percent last year.

The company will also be offering all the deals at one time, rather than spreading them out for limited times at different parts of the shopping day.

“Customers today are bombarded with different messages and different offers,” said Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer of Walmart U.S., at a media event at its store in Secaucus, New Jersey, on Wednesday. “We’re moving to one event to make shopping easier.”

The two-month November and December shopping period is a crucial time for retailers because it accounts on average for 20 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart offered a disappointing forecast in October, predicting revenue for the current fiscal year would be flat, down from its previous forecast for sales growth of 1 percent to 2 percent. And it said it expects profit to fall as much as 12 percent for next fiscal year as spending on e-commerce operations and higher wages squeeze the bottom line.

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