Walmart plans to throw thousands of parties in its retail locations this holiday season, according to news from Fortune. The move is likely an attempt to boost the in-store experience and convince customers to shop with the retailer rather than its rivals.
The company hopes to match last year’s holiday performance, when it did significantly better than comparable retailers, like Target and Kohl’s. The parties will be a key feature of Walmart’s holiday strategy. The retailer expects to hold 20,000 holiday gatherings at its 4,700 retail locations and also increase in-store product demonstrations.
The first parties will occur on Nov. 4 and emphasize the retailer’s toy department, allowing children to play with merchandise and be photographed with Santa Claus. Entertainment-themed parties will be held on Dec. 2 and popular gift ideas on Dec. 16.
Walmart will be hiring larger numbers of seasonal “Holiday Helpers,” who will badist shoppers in retrieving online orders and increase checkout speeds.
“We’ll have deep availability of top items, and our store shelves will be stocked,” Walmart U.S. Chief Merchandising Officer Steve Bratspies said to reporters during a conference call.
Visits to Walmart retail locations rose 1.3 percent last quarter, the thirteenth consecutive quarter of growth for the retailer. Fortune suggested that this indicates Walmart’s investments in grocery pickup, in-store order retrieval, mobile payment apps and the expansion of its online inventory have started to paid off. Walmart says its online badortment is three times larger than it was last year. The company also says that customers will receive discounts should they go to a store in order to pick up their online orders. Additionally, Walmart is also introducing a number of brands it hasn’t carried previously.
Unlike retail rivals Target and Best Buy, Walmart isn’t waiving shipping fees on orders of every size. The minimum cutoff for free shipping last year was $50.