Despite closing its doors two hours earlier on Christmas Eve than in previous years, Walmart is making that last 10 days before Christmas count. It’s doing so by elbowing shoppers into planning ahead, somewhat.
This week, the Arkansas-based retailer announced that shoppers could order a gift or other item on its website as late as 6 p.m. the eve of the eve (Dec. 23) to pick it up in-store at a Walmart Supercenter the next day (Christmas Eve). It’s a move that aims at those truly last-minute procrastinators, while protecting stores from being overwhelmed on Christmas Eve.
In addition, the retailer has added more items to its online site — tens of thousands of them — that can be available for next-day or same-day pickup in-store.
Analysts say this new plan is crucial in the retailer’s battle against internet giant Amazon. Retailers with both an online and brick-and-mortar option can have some advantage, especially if there is any kind of shipping costs or the need to have an item sooner than any delivery service can arrive. And, at the same time, it could just be sound planning. Back in October, Walmart executives said they expected in-store pickup to grow five times over last year this holiday season. That same month, Minnesota-based Target released data suggesting that more than a third of its online orders are picked up in-store.
But Walmart knows that customers will indeed be shopping up until the last minute and looking for what their options are. The retailer said it will post a list of items available to be picked up in-store in the last days before the holiday.
If customers aren’t interested or able to make the in-store pickup, the rush delivery option is available for purchases made up until the clock strikes noon on Dec. 22, and standard delivery ends two days before.