Wal-Mart goes 'deep' on holiday inventory in bid to boost sales

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Wal-Mart Rolls Out Big Plans for Black Friday


Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) says it significantly boosted its holiday inventory for electronics, toys and other potentially popular products, betting that the promise of being in-stock will attract customers during this crucial shopping season.

Wal-Mart could use the boost: margins at the retailer, due to report fiscal third quarter earnings on Tuesday, have come under pressure due to costs related to entry-level wages, investments in e-commerce and competition from Amazon.com as well as regional supermarkets and dollar stores.

SEE ALSO: Wal-Mart syncs Black Friday deals online and in store

"We bought really deep. It's our commitment that we are going to have product and that is one of our key advantages," Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer, told reporters at store in Secaucus, New Jersey, as he outlined plans for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that traditionally kicks off the year-end shopping season.



The retailer also plans to offer online 96 percent of Black Friday deals available in store, up from 90 percent last year. The promise of an abundance of product in its 4,600 stores and online is a key plank of Wal-Mart's holiday strategy, but it is not without risk.

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Wal-Mart goes 'deep' on holiday inventory in bid to boost sales
Shoppers wait in line outside a Best Buy Co. store ahead of Black Friday in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. An estimated 140 million U.S. shoppers will hit stores and the Web this weekend in search of post-Thanksgiving discounts, kicking off what retailers predict will be the best holiday season in three years. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Target shoppers wait to check out on Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in South Portland, Maine. The store opened at midnight. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR SEARS - A Sears store manager welcomes customers minutes before it opens its doors on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. More than 250 shoppers lined up at the Sears store in Schaumburg Ill.. Sears, a leading integrated retailer, offered more than 1,000 doorbuster deals starting at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Sears stores will remain open until 10 p.m. on Black Friday. (Jean-Marc Giboux/AP Images for Sears)
IMAGEN DISTRIBUIDA PARA MACY'S - Los compradores aprovechan las ofertas del “Viernes Negro” durante la apertura del Macy’s en Lenox a las 6:00 pm del Jueves, 27 de noviembre 2014 en Atlanta (John Amis / AP Images para Macy’s)
Target shoppers Kelly Foley, left, Debbie Winslow, center, and Ann Rich use a smartphone to look at a competitor's prices while shopping shortly after midnight on Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in South Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Target shoppers head for the checkout line with a flat screen television just after midnight on Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in South Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Shoppers head into Target just after their doors opened at midnight on Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in South Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR WALMART - Customers wrap up their holiday shopping during Walmart's Black Friday events on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 in Bentonville, Ark. Deep savings continue at Walmart Friday though Cyber Monday as part of five days of events in stores and online. (Photo by Gunnar Rathbun/Invision for Walmart/AP Images)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR WALMART - Customers wrap up their holiday shopping during Walmart's Black Friday events on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 in Bentonville, Ark. Deep savings continue at Walmart Friday though Cyber Monday as part of five days of events in stores and online. (Photo by Gunnar Rathbun/Invision for Walmart/AP Images)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR WALMART - Customers shop hundreds of deals during Walmart's first Black Friday event at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving night, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 in Bentonville, Ark. Deep savings continue at Walmart Friday through Cyber Monday as part of five days of events in stores and online. (Photo by Gunnar Rathbun/Invision for Walmart/AP Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Shoppers carry recent purchases through Herald Square on the morning of November 28, 2014 in New York City. The Friday after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, traditionally marks the beginning of the Holiday season. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Shoppers carry recent purchases through Herald Square on the morning of November 28, 2014 in New York City. The Friday after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, traditionally marks the beginning of the Holiday season. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
GREENFIELD, WI - NOVEMBER 28: Shoppers wait in temperatures in the mid teens as they wait to get their holiday shopping season going at the annual Black Friday sales event at the Sports authority store November 28, 2014 in Greenfield, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
WEST ALLIS, WI - NOVEMBER 28: Shoppers file into the store as they get their holiday shopping season going at the annual Black Friday sales event at the Home Depot November 28, 2014 in West Allis, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
WEST ALLIS, WI - NOVEMBER 28: Shoppers line up as they wait to get their holiday shopping season going at the annual Black Friday sales event at the Home Depot November 28, 2014 in West Allis, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
WEST ALLIS, WI - NOVEMBER 28: Shoppers line up as they wait to get their holiday shopping season going at the annual Black Friday sales event at the Home Depot November 28, 2014 in West Allis, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Macy's opens it's doors at 6pm for Black Friday on November 27, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Hilton Garden Inn)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Macy's opens it's doors at 6pm for Black Friday on November 27, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Hilton Garden Inn)
MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 27: Guests waiting in line to shop Black Friday deals at Target Dadeland South in Miami were surprised by Telemundo host, Jorge Bernal and a group of caroling kids at the Black Friday At Target Dadeland South In Miami at Target Dadeland South on November 27, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Target)
Customers wait to enter an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., ahead of a Black Friday discount sale in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A customer speaks on a mobile phone while standing in the bay of an empty LED television sales display during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A customer selects a kettle from a sales display in the electronics section of an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: A woman carries bags of shopping on Oxford Street during 'Black Friday' sales on November 28, 2014 in London, England. Originating in the USA as a sales day that following the Thanksgiving holiday, 'Black Friday' is becoming an increasingly popular shopping day in the UK. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
Customers fall to the floor as they grapple for an LED television during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: will.i.am and General Manager of Bloomingdale's Richard Mast open doors and pump up holiday shoppers with with i.am PULS during black Friday at Bloomingdale's on November 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for I.amPULS and will.i.am)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR KMART - Customers are the first to shop doorbuster deals at Kmart when doors open at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 27, 2014 in Chicago, Ill. Kmart is offering three rounds of doorbuster sales through Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2014 on the hottest on-trend gifts from popular brands – many exclusive to Kmart – everything from apparel to tools, home decor and electronics. (Jean-Marc Giboux/AP Images for Kmart)
A customer transports a boxed LED television in the basket of a mobility scooter during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Police take security measures as people shopping to benefit from the discounts within the Black Friday, regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, following Thanksgiving Day in New York, United States on November 27, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A customer gestures as he queues to purchase goods including an LED televisions during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Customers push shopping carts loaded with LED television sets during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A customer, center, transports a boxed LED television in the basket of a mobility scooter during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Customers queue at a checkout counter to pay for the goods, including an LED television and a toaster, during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: People shop to benefit from the discounts within the Black Friday, regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, following Thanksgiving Day in New York, United States on November 27, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: People shop to benefit from the discounts within the Black Friday, regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, following Thanksgiving Day in New York, United States on November 27, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A customer browses DVD's on sale at a Best Buy Co. store ahead of Black Friday in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. An estimated 140 million U.S. shoppers will hit stores and the Web this weekend in search of post-Thanksgiving discounts, kicking off what retailers predict will be the best holiday season in three years. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Best Buy Co. employee counts U.S. twenty and ten dollar banknotes at a Best Buy Co. store ahead of Black Friday in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. An estimated 140 million U.S. shoppers will hit stores and the Web this weekend in search of post-Thanksgiving discounts, kicking off what retailers predict will be the best holiday season in three years. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Shoppers hold items to be purchased as they wait in line at a Best Buy Co. store ahead of Black Friday in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. An estimated 140 million U.S. shoppers will hit stores and the Web this weekend in search of post-Thanksgiving discounts, kicking off what retailers predict will be the best holiday season in three years. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A shopper, front, reaches for Beats Electronics LLC Beats by Dr. Dre headphones as other shoppers wait in line at a Best Buy Co. store ahead of Black Friday in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. An estimated 140 million U.S. shoppers will hit stores and the Web this weekend in search of post-Thanksgiving discounts, kicking off what retailers predict will be the best holiday season in three years. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: People shop to benefit from the discounts within the Black Friday, regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, following Thanksgiving Day in New York, United States on November 27, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: People shop to benefit from the discounts within the Black Friday, regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, following Thanksgiving Day in New York, United States on November 27, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Employees try to control customers as they attempt to get the last remaining LED televisions during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A customer stands with shopping carts laden with boxed electronic goods, including LED televisions, as he waits at a checkout desk during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Customers rush to get to a sales display of reduced LED television sets during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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The National Retail Federation is predicting industry sales will rise 3.7 percent in November and December, a slow down from last year.

Some other researchers are also warning of slower growth due to stagnant wages, a sluggish stock market and tough price competition, and on Wednesday, department store Macy's Inc (M.N) raised further concerns about the retail sector after it reported weak sales and cut its full-year forecast.

Greg Foran, head of Wal-Mart's U.S. operations, said he was comfortable with the retailer's inventory levels. "I think we are OK at this point in time. We'd like the temperature to cool down a bit in parts of the country, but we are not at a point where we have to do anything," he said. Warm weather hurts sales of winter clothing.

MORE ON BLACK FRIDAY: Best Buy announces its Black Friday deals

Wal-Mart will kick-off its Black Friday promotions early Thanksgiving morning online and Thanksgiving day at 6 p.m. in its stores. It said it would make all deals available from the start, rather than staggering them as it has done in the past.

In an example of its purchasing scale, the retailer said it would have more than 15 million pairs of pajamas and more than 1 million televisions in stock for Black Friday. Wal-Mart is also banking on a strong season for toys. That is partly due to the increased incorporation of electronics, which have made the toys on offer more interesting, Foran said. "I think this department is probably going to be in for the biggest Christmas it has had in a long time," he added.

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