Walmart Pushes “Black Friday” Back Two More Hours To Thursday “Dessert Hour”

You can only push something back so far until its name ceases to have any real meaning. Although if Walmart keeps knocking Black Friday back, it could eventually end up on an actual Friday again. This year the mega retailer is starting its Black Friday specials two hours earlier than the year before, starting at 8 p.m. Thursday during “dessert hour.”

This year’s start will be Walmart’s earliest ever, notes Reuters, and goes to show just how confident the store is that people will be ready to spend some big bucks on holiday gifts. And there will be plenty to choose from, it seems.

“We bought deep, very deep, and we bought deep on items that matter to our customers,” said Walmart U.S. Chief Merchandising and Marketing Officer Duncan Mac Naughton.

The holidays are a key time for most retailers, constituting a big chunk of the year’s revenue. But stores have to work hard to attract and keep customers, which is why many of them keep coming up with new carrots to dangle in our faces.

Walmart’s layaway started a month earlier this year as well, along with fellow retailers who lifted layaway fees and made other changes to their programs.

For those waiting in line on Thursday night, the store is sweetening the pot by guaranteeing that three items will be set aside for people standing in lines at its stores that night:

Those shoppers are guaranteed access to an Apple iPad 2 16GB with Wi-Fi, a March 2011 version, priced at $399 with a $75 Walmart Gift Card; a 32-inch Emerson 720p LCD TV at $148, $80 below the usual price; and an LG Blu-ray player for $38 that Walmart does not typically sell but said goes for $68 to $79 elsewhere.

The early start time for the traditional Black Friday sales may finally be wearing on people who don’t enjoy standing in line in the cold, wee hours of the early morning, suggested Walmart’s Naughton.

“‘We got customer feedback that says ‘I like to shop earlier so I can go to bed earlier,’”  he said.

Sleep. That is definitely the gift that keeps on giving.

Walmart moves “Black Friday” earlier on Thanksgiving night [Reuters]