Walmart promises 'all-new Black Friday experience' with earlier savings and more online deals, seeks 20K seasonal workers

 


Walmart is getting ready for a different holiday season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The retail giant announced plans Wednesday to meet the demands of increased online shopping, gift availability, and how it is preparing stores for "safe shopping."

Walmart is "promising an all-new Black Friday experience" and says it "will spread traditional Black Friday savings throughout the season" with more deals available online.

While Walmart says the savings will start earlier than ever, the full details on its Black Friday experience weren't unveiled Wednesday. However, the retailer said it is hiring 20,000 seasonal workers for its eCommerce fulfillment centers including order fillers and power equipment operators.

The temporary positions are posted at www.walmartcareers.com/fcjobs and also can be applied for by texting FC to 240240.

Greg Smith, Walmart U.S. executive vice president of the supply chain, said in a news release that as more shoppers "turn to online shopping, we want to ensure we’re staffed and ready to help deliver that special gift to their loved ones while continuing to fulfill our customer’s everyday needs.”

The starting hourly rate for the seasonal jobs will range from $15.75 to $23.75 based on location, position, and schedule. The jobs begin immediately and continue through Jan. 1. Some positions could convert to regular employment, the release said.

In the last six months, Walmart says it has hired more than 500,000 new employees across the company "to ensure the retailer could provide essential items to customers during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Last week, Walmart announced it was giving approximately 165,000 hourly workers a raise by introducing new leadership roles and "cross-training opportunities." 


The different holiday season, different gifts

Walmart hinted at the different holiday season back in July, when it announced stores would be closed on Thanksgiving for the first time since the late 1980s.

For years, Thanksgiving has been seen as the start of the holiday shopping season and Black Friday weekend. 

Home Depot, Target, and Best Buy have said they will start offering deals for the holiday season earlier than before to reduce crowds and spread out demand amid COVID-19.

Scott McCall, Walmart U.S. executive vice president and the chief merchandising officer said in the release that customers have been shopping differently over the past six months and that's expected to continue into the holiday season.

“We’ve heard from our customers that many plans on starting their holiday shopping well before Black Friday, and that they’re looking for gifts that fit their current lifestyle," McCall said. "So, we’ve adjusted our strategy to adapt to these new shopping preferences — we’re offering more of what they want now, earlier than ever, and all at the best prices.”

The retailer is "increasing availability of unexpected holiday gifts that reflect lifestyles in this 'new normal,' including athleisure, loungewear, and sleepwear for the family, outdoor grills, bicycles and exercise equipment, and outdoor sporting equipment."

Walmart says it has also increased inventory of traditional gifts including electronics with a "focus on TVs, laptops and video games" and will have over 1,300 new toys (See Walmart's top toy list here). There also will be a larger assortment of supply of pet products and Walmart says it's "ready to sell over 3 million comfy pet beds."

Masks required, shorter store hours

Walmart said its stores including "Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets will continue to be closed to customers overnight to give associates extra time to clean and sanitize stores and stock shelves."

Last month, Walmart announced the majority of stores would close at 10 p.m. local time, an increase of 90 minutes. Store hours were twice cut in March amid the pandemic.

Face coverings and masks, which Walmart began requiring nationwide July 20, will continue to be required, and the plastic barrier also known as sneeze guards will "remain in Walmart pharmacies, at checkout and at other points of sale to distance customers and associates."