Wal-Mart Will Offer Its Cyber Monday Deals on Sunday Night

Is This Week the Be All, End All for U.S. Retail?

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., playing catch-up with Amazon.com Inc., is making a bigger bet on Cyber Monday.

The retailer plans to start offering its Cyber Monday deals on more than 2,000 items -- four times the number of discounts it had last year -- starting at 8 p.m. Eastern time on the Sunday night before. The promotions will come in addition to its Black Friday specials, which it will begin offering online starting Thanksgiving morning.

Cyber Monday -- the first Monday after Thanksgiving -- has long been touted as the day when online retailers roll out their holiday specials. But Wal-Mart and its rivals are increasingly spreading out discounts over a longer period of time. Amazon began offering special discounts on Nov. 20, a week before Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

The National Retail Federation expects online sales to increase as much as 8 percent this year to about $105 billion, outpacing the growth of brick-and-mortar shopping. That’s put more pressure on Wal-Mart to refine its online capabilities.

Acquainted Term

The term Cyber Monday was coined a decade ago, when retailers noticed a spike in online holiday shopping on the Monday after Thanksgiving. The reason: Many people returned to work and used their office’s high-speed Internet connection to shop. These days, most Americans have broadband at home, decreasing the relevance of Cyber Monday.

Wal-Mart has noticed a surge in online traffic in past years on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. That’s why it figured it was a good idea to start its e-commerce specials that night, said Fernando Madeira, president of Walmart.com. It will also be offering a second round of deals on Monday evening when its traffic patterns in the past have grown, he said.

“We are giving customers what they want,” Madeira said. “For some who want to start to shop earlier, we want to make sure they have access to great deals.”

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