If you don't have a problem shopping on Thanksgiving to get a jump on Black Friday sales, Walmart is trying to make it worthwhile: Among its deals is a 32-inch LCD TV for just $98. But if that's not enough to get you up off your couch, Walmart will also be offering some online specials as early as 8:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving. Some of the in-store deals will also be available online, but others will be Internet-only specials.
This year, the nation's largest retailer is opening for business at 6:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening, two hours earlier than last year, and continuing through the Black Friday weekend. Thanksgiving-day in-store events will take place at both 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and then again at 8:00 a.m. on Friday.
Electronics will have an even more prominent place in Walmart's special Black Friday deals. During a media briefing the company held with reporters yesterday, it said it will offer 65 percent more inventory on televisions, and double the number of tablets it offered last year.
The company is also expanding its "one-hour guarantee" policy, which promises that if you're in one of the designated lines at your local Walmart store between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 28, the company guarantees you'll either be able to purchase the item that night, or receive it by Christmas. This year, 21 items will be covered by the guarantee, up from just three last year.
Among the deals covered by the one-hour guarantee at the 6:00 p.m. event:
- a 60-inch 1080p Vizio Smart LED 1080p HDTV for $688, a claimed $310 savings;
- a 32-inch Funai 720p LCD TV for $98, apparently a Black Friday special;
- a 16GB Apple iPad Mini with Wi-Fi for $299, plus a $100 Walmart gift card;
- Funai 32-inch LED 720p HDTV - $98 (special buy);
- HP Pavilion TouchSmart 14-B109WM laptop - $278 (special buy);
- LG Blu-ray Player - $38 (special buy).
At 8:00 p.m. the guaranteed deals include:
- the Beats by Dre Solo headphones for $115, a claimed $85 savings;
- a 7-inch RCA dual-core tablet for $49, an apparent Black Friday special;
- a Straight Talk Galaxy Centura prepaid phone for $29, a claimed savings of $70.88.
In addition to these guaranteed deals, there will be numerous other Black Friday deals on items across all product categories. But the 6:00 p.m. sale seems pretty light on electronics, though there will be more than 100 video games priced from $10 to $25 each, along with more than 500 movies—including new releases—ranging in price from $2 to $10.
For those hunting for bigger Black Friday game, it pays to wait until the 8:00 p.m. event, where things get more interesting, especially for those looking for a TV. Among the specials:
- a 70-inch Vizio 1080p smart LCD TV with LED backlight for $998, a claimed $700 savings;
- a 46-inch Samsung 1080p smart LED LCD TV for $497, a claimed $151 savings;
- a 50-inch Emerson 1080p LED LCD TV for $288, a claimed $210 savings;
- a 40-inch 1080p Element LED LCD TV for $178, apparently a Black Friday special;
- a 7-inch Nabi 2 tablet for $99, a claimed $80 savings;
- a Canon T3 digital SLR bundled with a 75-300mm lens, camera bag, and 8GB card for $449, another special;
- a GoPro Hero 3 White Edition for $199 with a $30 Walmart gift card;
- unnamed Monster headphones priced at $80, $50 less than usual;
- a Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy S III prepaid phone for $299, a claimed $100 savings.
We also checked out the real Black Friday deals, which kick off at 8:00 a.m on Friday, but they seem surprisingly light on electronics. The exception: The Apple iPhone 5C ($45) and iPhone 5S ($189), which come with a $75 Walmart gift card. (The deal requires a two-year contract from AT&T or Verizon.) But this year Walmart is rolling out something called Manager’s Specials, which empowers local managers to drop prices on select categories and brands from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. To find out the details, you'll have to "like" your local Walmart Facebook page.
New this year: wristbands
This year for the first time Walmart is issuing wristbands to customers for certain products, so you can shop while you wait for the time-specific deals to kick off. You just need to get back to a designated line any time within two hours of the start of the event to claim your merchandise. But the number of wristbands will be limited, and distributed only while supplies last. You can see a full list of the items at Walmart's Black Friday website.
For those who aren't willing to move more than a few feet from their turkey, Walmart will make some of the in-store specials available online on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, along with some Internet-only deals, as long as supplies last. Among the deals, which kick off at 8:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving:
- the Apple iPad 2 with a Bluetooth speaker and accessory kit for $349, a claimed savings of nearly $75;
- a 40-inch 60Hz Samsung 1080p LED LCD TV for $379, a claimed savings of almost $50;
- a 7-inch Proscan tablet with keyboard case for $49, a Black Friday special;
- an Xbox 360 with Camouflage Controller for $139, a claimed $90 savings.
If you'll be doing some Black Friday shopping this year, keep checking back for more info—especially our top Black Friday deals— as we get closer to the event.
—James K. Willcox
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