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Walmart Extends Returns Window

Target Announces Oct. 6 Kick-Off to Holiday Shopping Season

Holiday retail battles have begun, with Target and Walmart breaking out price and return guarantees, extended payment options and savings promises for an extended promotional run starting the first week of October. The retailers are also competing for tens of thousands of workers -- with a focus on delivery drivers -- with wage and benefits enticements.

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The holiday retail sales season is starting Oct. 6-8 at Target, which announced Thursday its biggest Deal Days event yet, with “hundreds of thousands” of discounts plus the return of its Holiday Price Match Guarantee through Dec. 24.

Walmart’s holiday guarantee, also announced Thursday, says shoppers “won’t have to worry about short return windows,” with an extended return policy for purchases, “including electronics and Marketplace items.” Eligible purchases made on or after Oct. 1 can be returned through Jan. 31, it said. Customers can return items curbside “from the comfort of their vehicles,” Walmart said.

In a perk for Walmart+ members, the retailer will offer members in select stores the option of returns picked up from their doorstep, after scheduling the return via app. “Members won’t need to provide a box or a label -- simply hand off the return to one of our delivery drivers, and Walmart will handle the rest,” it said. Curbside returns and Return Pickup from Home options will launch in select stores the first week of October and will continue to expand to more stores in the coming months, Walmart said.

A day after Walmart said it planned to hire 40,000 employees “for a great holiday season and beyond,” and Amazon expanded its Delivery Service Partners program (see 2209210036) to lure drivers, Target announced it’s looking for 100,000 seasonal staff. Target noted its starting wage range of $15-$24 an hour; Walmart touted its average wage of over $17. Target said employees, including seasonal hires, have access to flexible scheduling, “well-being” benefits and discounts; 30% of season workers stay on after the holidays, it said.

After two years affected by COVID-19 pandemic-fueled supply chain shortages, Walmart said it’s “ready to deliver” this holiday season. “Walmart has been preparing for months to deliver through the holidays, and the company has taken steps to ensure it has the products customers want however they choose to shop,” the retailer said. It’s working closely with partners “at every stage of the supply chain to ensure a seamless flow of merchandise,” noting recent investments in automation that will allow products to flow faster through its distribution and fulfillment network.

Walmart said it expanded its holiday gift assortment with more items, new brands and more Walmart exclusives. It invested in “key gifting categories to increase inventory for highly-sought-after electronics” including TVs, tablets, wireless headphones, smartphones and watches, plus appliances, robotic vacuums, furniture and decor, it said.

In response to customer feedback, Walmart is highlighting best deals in one place on its e-commerce site, it said, and it's offering personalized site experiences such as "virtual try-on" and "view in your home" to help customers decide if a product is right for them before purchasing.

Walmart also announced Thursday Spark Good, a “collective action” to support communities nationwide. A “round-up” program lets customers round up their purchase total and donate change to a charity of their choice when they check out at and via the Walmart app. Nonprofits can create and manage registries for products they need to make it easier for customers to support areas where they can make the biggest impact, the retailer said.

Meanwhile, rumors of a second Amazon Prime Day event for October, following a two-day sale in July, have swirled for weeks. Amazon didn't comment.