Wal-Mart Unleashes Spring Equivalent of Black Friday

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It doesn’t seem like that long ago that people were cramming into line at big box stores, elbowing middle-aged women to get at the last flat screen on Black Friday, but already Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and other big retailers are already hoping to recover from below-average sales this past winter by driving home the idea of spring sales and discounts, according to recent reports from the New York Times and CNBC.

Walmart in particular is hoping that its growing home improvement sector will help it boost its sales during the spring season; on Friday the retailer slashed prices on outdoor living, lawn, and garden products. Walmart’s dedication to deeper discounts this spring also puts pressure on already established home improvement retailers like Lowe’s and the Home Depot, both of which count spring as their equivalent of the “holiday season.”

“Nobody does Black Friday better than Wal-Mart, and we’re bringing that same philosophy to our new outdoor living, lawn and garden event,” Michele Gloeckler, vice president of Wal-Mart’s U.S. home division, per CNBC.

Gloeckler added that this spring is likely to be a big one after the hard-hitting winter that swept the U.S. this year. “After this tough of a winter, we’re really excited to bring spring to our customers with great brands and great prices,” she said, per the New York Times.

“And we’re going to do this in true Walmart fashion,” she said. “Think of just pallets and pallets of mulch and grills, patio sets and big yellow bags of Miracle-Gro. We’re ready to bring it out in a big way.”

Walmart’s also banking on a larger trend among consumers to spend money and time on their outdoor living spaces. “Consumers are expanding their living space outside their home, and people are spending money on their homes,” she said, in an interview with the New York Times on Thursday.

Other home improvement retailers are bringing in extra resources this spring, too. The Home Depot is reportedly hiring 80,000 employees in anticipation of the spring season, according to the New York Times.

But Walmart says its approach to the “Spring Black Friday” promotions differ from its competitors in a number of ways: Walmart isn’t stocking lumber or roofing tiles or other products more commonly found at home improvement and hardware-specific retailers, though it has expanded to sheds and will stock more riding lawn mowers, in response to the “home improvement” trend.

Walmart’s initiative is also simultaneous and nationwide, and will take place over the course of nine days, beginning on the first full day of spring, while Lowe’s and Home Depot’s events are scattered, with variations from region to region — to account for differences in the weather between Atlanta and say, the suburbs of Minneapolis. The New York Times notes that Lowe’s first spring Black Friday sale will begin this weekend in the South.

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