Don't shop tomorrow: a better Wal-Mart sale starts Sunday

The Bush Bust has resulted in shoppers abandoning mall retailers in favor of Wal-Mart and other deep discounters. The largest company in the world isn't taking this new business for granted, though. It has announced a new sales promotion, Operation Main Street, which it claims will save customers $100 million on purchases between now and Christmas.

The sale begins on Sunday, December 14th, and will focus primarily on the most popular gift items, especially ones in the $10 to $20 range, and holiday celebration supplies. Look particularly in the electronics and television departments, where the company will try to one-up other vendors in perhaps the most hotly contested sector this year. Two sales items mentioned: a 2GB Toshiba laptop and 32-inch Sharp LCD HDTV both priced at $398.

Wal-Mart is also extending its free "Site to Store" service which allows you to buy a product from its web site and have it shipped to the Wal-Mart store of your choice. You can get the latest deals sent to your cell phone via text messages by calling #WMT or sign up online at http://www.walmart.com/mobileinfo.

I'd suggest, before you head out the Wal-Mart, that you look through the newspaper ad for the best prices on the items for which you are shopping, and take those ads along with you. Wal-Mart vows to match competing offers, so this could save you even more.

Another tip: I've used a service called Frucall to save money. When you find an item you want on the shelf at Wal-Mart, you can call Frucall from your cell phone, enter the universal price code (UPC) from the item box, and Frucall will tell you what the same item would cost if purchased from the cheapest online vendor. I used this at Costco last year to confirm the store price was in line with what I would pay elsewhere. The site requires you to join (free) beforehand, though, and some savvy merchants hide the UPC of items on sale.