Walmart is making Black Friday a weeklong event, shifting away from the chaotic one-day sales that once epitomized the day after Thanksgiving.
Walmart's new version of Black Friday will include five days of sales on Walmart.com and in stores, starting at 12:01 a.m. online on Thanksgiving and running through Cyber Monday, the company said in a statement Wednesday.
"Black Friday has become Black Friday week," Walmart chief merchandising officer Duncan Mac Naughton told reporters on Tuesday. "Our customers want to shop when they want to shop, so we're trying to expand the times and product availability with them."
The company, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, is running waves of in-store sales at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving and again at 6 a.m. on Black Friday, Mac Naughton said. The Walmart.com deals will start early on Thanksgiving to capture the growing number of shoppers looking for deals before sitting down for turkey.
Retailers including J.C. Penney, Staples and Macy's are planning to open earlier than ever on Thanksgiving to lure shoppers. Best Buy joined the parade on Tuesday, saying it would have more than 1,000 stores open from 5 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving, with most remaining open until 1 a.m. on Black Friday. The stores will reopen at 8 a.m. Black Friday.
Target said earlier this week that it would open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than in 2013. The retailer offered some deals on its website on Monday and will roll out more on its mobile-phone application starting Nov. 23. Its stores will have some promotions as early as Nov. 26, the day before Thanksgiving.
Shoppers are relying less on Black Friday for holiday deals. About 70 percent of consumers consider Black Friday unimportant because of the prevalence of sales throughout the holiday season, according to a report this month from Accent Marketing Services in Jeffersonville, Indiana.
Shoppers also are increasingly turning to the Web and away from brick-and-mortar stores. About 49 percent of consumers plan to research products and make purchases on Thanksgiving morning this year, up from 31 percent in 2013, PricewaterhouseCoopers said in its 2014 holiday outlook last month.
"Black Friday is no longer an event for customers who wake up at the crack of dawn to get great deals," Mac Naughton said. "It's become a family shopping tradition where everyone shops at some point throughout the weekend."