Walmart Makes New Run at Amazon, but Tackles Best Buy and Supermarkets, too

Last Updated Nov 9, 2009 7:30 AM EST

Walmart is taking on all comers as Thanksgiving approaches with discounts that again challenge Amazon but Best Buy and supermarkets as well.

Vice chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright said Walmart (WMT) would not be beaten on price this Christmas season, and the retailer is out to prove him true. It lowered prices on select movie DVDs to $10 on Thursday then cut the price to $9.98 a day later after Amazon (AMZN) began to offer flicks at $9.99.

As in its price war with Amazon on books, Walmart is offering a pre-order deal â€"- web only -- on highly anticipated titles include Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and Angels and Demons. With original list prices between $29.98 and $26.99, savings are between 67 and 63 percent.

Amazon has a mass of DVD deals. A specific range of new $10 titles overlaps with Walmart's promotional assortment on Star Trek 11 for example. But the online retailer also is offering older movies in Blu-ray format for less than 10 bucks, so that Interview with a Vampire is at $8.49 and Silence of the Lambs is at $9.99. It also has a listing of new Blu-ray and DVD releases for under $20 including Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in a Blu-ray/DVD combo that includes other special considerations and comes in at $16.99. Across the spectrum of DVD offers, savings run from 60 percent to 40 percent.

As with the books tussle that began between Walmart and Amazon, Target (TGT) couldn't resist getting into the fray. Its selection covers pretty much the same group of upcoming DVD releases as does Walmart's but at a $9.99 price. However, Target is making a free shipping offer very conspicuous on its website movies page and on a page that details the pre-order promotion. You have to click on the movie to find that Walmart ships free. While Amazon also has a free shipping offer, some shopping around its site is necessary to discover the $10 pre-order deals never mind delivery details. In contrast, Target lists the $9.99 deal on its home page, even if it's in the fine print rather than shouted to the casual visitor. Walmart's home page provides the most conspicuous $10-range DVD deal notice of the three.

Yet, the DVD deal is only one of multiple discounts Walmart is offering now, as it also launched a multifaceted Thanksgiving promotion last week.

On Nov. 4, Walmart began providing 12-pound turkeys for $5 as part of a deal that prices out specific items so that a customer can serve up a $20 Thanksgiving dinner for eight. The menu, as arranged by Walmart and besides the turkey, includes, three cans of Green Giant vegetables, two cans of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, three boxes of Stove Top stuffing, a five-pound bag of red potatoes, a package of Sara Lee dinner rolls and a pumpkin roll cake.

No partridge in a pair tree, but that would be premature.

While a food deal seems natural, Walmart also has decided that Thanksgiving is a good time to think about electronics. So the retailer is offering a $298 deal on a Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) notebook computer with three gigabytes of memory, a 250-gig hard drive and Windows 7 Premium. Unlike this summer, Best Buy (BBY) hasn't responded to a $298 Walmart notebook deal with its own cut-rate computer, instead featuring a $600 laptop/external DVD drive offer as its major web discount.

Along with the computer, Walmart offered Sharp (SHCAY) HDTVs with a $498 opening price for a 42-inch model, a $149 Sony (SNE) Blu-ray player and an Xbox 360 Arcade Console at $99 when the value of a $100 Walmart Gift Card, for use on future purchases, is included. The retailer guaranteed 10 of the specially priced Xboxes per store, by the way.

Once again, Walmart has developed limited-scope -- so cost-controlled -- but high-profile holiday marketing events that are helping it set the promotional standard for chosen product categories, among them DVDs, and timeframes, the Thanksgiving lead-up in this case. In calling the holiday tune, Walmart so far has been pretty successful in getting rival retailers to dance the dance of its choice.
  • Mike Duff

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