Walmart kicks off online holiday deals early

San Bruno, Calif. -- Walmart on Friday kicked off its online holiday deals, a month earlier than usual, and announced that it is offering free shipping on about 99% of its online items this year for orders over $50. (Last year, only about 15% of its assortment qualified for free shipping). The moves come as retailers get ready for what is expected to be an extremely competitive season, one marked by intense promotional activity. Retailers are also challenged by this year’s calendar: Thanksgiving falls late, on Nov. 28, resulting in six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas compared to last year.

The chain’s online sales event on November 1 features some 300 early-bird specials and includes items from JVC 42-inch LED televisions for $299 to Xelio 10.1-inch tablets for $49. According to the retailer, those are's lowest prices in those categories.

Customers can learn about Walmart's holiday deals through the season by signing up for the retailer's emails, liking Walmart on Facebook on or downloading the mobile app.

"We know that our customers start shopping for the holidays on Nov. 1 because historically our traffic spikes the day after Halloween," said Joel Anderson, president and CEO of

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