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Walmart kicks off Black Friday early, offering cheap AirPods and vacuums

Julia La Roche

Walmart (WMT) is kicking off its sales for Black Friday, the biggest shopping bonanza for the retailer, early — again.

Considered the retail industry’s “Super Bowl,” the annual shopping bonanza will officially start online at 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

This is the second consecutive year for Walmart starting two hours earlier online than prior years, and comes as retailers are scrambling to compensate for a truncated holiday sales calendar. New this year is a web-based “Pre-Black Friday” event beginning at midnight on Friday, Nov. 22.

The in-store event will begin at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Shoppers who arrive by 4 p.m. will get snacks, coffee, and hot chocolate before the doors open that night.

According to Walmart’s chief merchandising officer Steve Bratspies, some of the must-have deals this year include $15 off Apple (AAPL) AirPods with charging case for $129, $47 off the iRobot (IRBT) 670 Wi-Fi Vacuum for $197, and a Disney (DIS) Frozen 2 Fold & Go Arendelle Castle for $40, which is exclusive-to-Walmart .

Other standouts in Walmart’s 32-page Black Friday ad scan include the onn. 50" Class 4K Roku Smart TV for $148, a $450 Walmart e-gift card on iPhone XS and a $250 e-gift on eligible trade-ins (activation with AT&T, Sprint or Verizon required), and the Instant Pot 6 Qt. Vortex Air Fryer for $49, according to BestBlackFriday.com.

To lure customers in-store amid the big crowds, Walmart is making it “extra easy” for shoppers, by color-coding items in its Black Friday ad scan. Those items will correspond with the retailer’s app and store interiors to help them find their items faster.

Shoppers without the app will be able to spot store associates with signs, and balloons with colors that correspond to the type of item they’re seeking.

Walmart's app features a color-coded map to help shoppers find sought after Black Friday deals.
Walmart's app features a color-coded map to help shoppers find sought after Black Friday deals.

Naturally, one of the drawbacks of Black Friday is the long lines. This year, all of Walmart’s Supercenters will feature the year-old Check Out With Me service. That allows customers to bypass the long checkout lines in some of the heaviest trafficked areas of the store, like the garden center or electronics department.

With Thanksgiving falling on Nov. 28 this year, retailers will have six fewer shopping days before Christmas Day arrives, ramping up the competitive intensity businesses usually feel this time of year.

In fact, Walmart.com got an early jump on the sales calendar weeks ago. It rolled out its “Buy Now” deals online on Thursday, with discounts on a slew of popular electronics. Sales include the Apple 10.5” iPad Pro Wi-Fi 512GB for $599 (for savings of $400) and $90 off a Shark DuoClean Lift-Away Speed Upright Vacuum NV770 for a new price of $149.

In preparation for the condensed holiday season, Walmart already launched its Early Deals Drop online on October 25, with discounts on items like a VIZIO 55-inch “smart” TV for $398, or a discount of $100, or $25 off the BouncePro 7-Foot My First Trampoline, for a new price of $99.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, reported third-quarter earnings results on Thursday before the opening bell. The retailer delivered adjusted earnings per share of $1.16, surpassing forecasts of $1.09. Revenue for the quarter came in at $127.99 billion, versus expectations of $128.67 billion.

Shares of Walmart gained 1.56% on Wednesday to end the day at an all-time peak of $120.98. They were last trading at new record highs in the pre-market.

Julia La Roche is a Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on