WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Lights on houses and Santas in malls are no longer the only parts of the holiday season that are popping up earlier -- Walmart is following Amazon.com and other online retailers, starting Cyber Monday before Black Friday.
Walmart announced it will start its Cyber Monday sales at midnight on Nov. 25, an earlier start to the retailer's online holiday sales that matches its in-store Black Friday sale's early start time of midnight on Thanksgiving Day.
The trend of starting big holiday sales earlier has experienced a slow creep the last several years, as retailers from Walmart and Target to Macy's and Kohl's open on Thanksgiving Day with Black Friday specials, while making the in-store specials available online to maximize sales.
The two days -- Black Friday and Cyber Monday -- are recognized as two of the biggest sales days of the year for retailers, with Cyber Monday overtaking Black Friday recently because of the convenience and lack crowds involved with shopping online.
To compete with other brick-and-mortar retailers, Walmart is opening earlier but won't make it's best Black Friday deals available until 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Many of the deals are also online in the hope that more people will be able to take advantage of them.
"By tripling our online product assortment, we're able to offer a lot more new brands and choices to customers all season long," said Steve Breen, senior vice president of merchandising for Walmart.com.
Walmart already announced it planned to beef up in-store staff to making shopping easier, and that the company hopes to encourage more people to shop online. They have put a particular focus on ordering online and picking up in store, as well, increasing staffing in the department to speed service up.