Walmart Unwraps Big Christmas Values Early

In new survey shoppers say economic worries prompt them to make lists early, check them twice

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. Oct. 1, 2008 – In 3,500 stores across the U.S., Walmart today reduced prices on some of the most popular toys, signaling its determination to be America’s price leader this Christmas. And over the next 10 days the retailer will fast track the opening of Christmas shops in stores nationwide.

And Walmart’s moves are right on the mark, a new survey shows. Consumers said they will start their Christmas shopping earlier and make other changes to help stretch their holiday cash.

"As consumers face higher prices for energy, a credit crunch and food inflation, we're working to provide low prices on both everyday needs and on things people want so they can live better," said John Fleming, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer. "Consumers know we've been on their side all year with great brands, every day low prices and our Rollback program. And this Christmas will be no different."

The 2008 Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey*, conducted on behalf of Walmart, was designed to learn what’s on America’s Christmas list this year, and what the gift buying priorities are for this coming Christmas season. In addition, this survey measures how the recent economic downturn may affect things ranging from how much consumers will spend on gifts, whom Americans will be shopping for, to how much people plan to give in charitable donations during the holiday season. It also measures attitudes of the much talked about Walmart mom.

The survey finds more than one-third of Americans buy gifts for their children first. Walmart has identified 10 popular toys, priced each at $10, to help parents get a head start. The toys are:

  • Barbie and her dog, Tanner
  • Barbie Mariposa (a beautiful butterfly-winged Barbie)
  • Play-Doh Ice Cream Shop
  • Assorted Littlest Pet Shop VIPs
  • Hot Wheels Trick Tracks and Beast Bash
  • Clue Board Game
  • Fur Real Newborn Animals
  • Tonka Light and Sound Vehicles
  • Doll Stroller
  • Bakugan by Spinmaster

In addition to these great values, Walmart.com is currently accepting pre-orders for the highly-anticipated release of Elmo Live. The latest Elmo will be available in-stores and online on October 14, but customers can reserve their Elmo Live today by pre-ordering at www.walmart.com/elmo.

Throughout the season, Walmart.com will offer free shipping with Site to Store on thousands of toys.

Walmart Garden Centers will become the destination for all things Christmas, including trees, tree ornaments and décor; indoor and outdoor string lights; and additional outdoor décor. Customers will find amazing values, including $5 ornament value packs – offering a choice of 24 small, six medium or two large ornaments – in 11 beautiful colors.

Walmart’s decision to focus on price and bring Christmas to life early is reinforced by the Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey. Key findings include:

Timing

  • Women begin making their Christmas lists farther in advance of Christmas than men.
    • Women are significantly more likely than men to have already started making their Christmas shopping lists (29 percent vs. 17 percent).
    • Men are much more likely than women to wait until the last minute to make their shopping lists (30 percent of males wait until December vs. 13 percent of women).
    • Younger adults are more likely to start Christmas shopping earlier this year than older adults.
      • More than half of American adults (51 percent) age 18-24 plan on starting their Christmas shopping at least 1 month earlier this year.
  • More than one-third of Americans buy gifts for their children first followed then by presents for a spouse or significant other and a parent.
    • While men are most likely to buy a present for their spouse or significant other first (28 percent vs. 8 percent), women are much more likely to buy a present for one or more of their children first (43 percent vs. 25 percent).

Spending

  • Sixty-one percent of Americans do not plan on making cut-backs on how much they spend this Christmas season.
    • Those who do plan on making cut-backs, plan on cutting back $50 or less.
  • To help deal with the weakened economy this season, however, more than one-third of Americans plan to purchase less expensive items (39 percent), to start their Christmas shopping earlier (35 percent) or to purchase presents for fewer people on their list this year (35 percent).
    • One-quarter (25 percent) of Americans plan on giving 1-2 fewer presents per-person this year.
    • Fifteen percent of Americans plan to drop a friend from their Christmas list this year. This is followed by 13 percent of Americans who plan to drop a co-worker from their list.

Christmas Lists

Electronics are the most desired gift for this Christmas season (13 percent) followed by financial security (10 percent), good health (6 percent), and car/automotive items (6 percent).

Regional preferences

  • Americans residing in the South are slightly more likely to plan on purchasing less expensive items, to start purchasing presents earlier to help stretch their budgets and to change the amount given in donations this year than Americans in other regions.

Pollsters have identified “Walmart moms” as a key voting bloc. How is she planning to tackle this Christmas?

  • Walmart moms are more likely than the average American to have already started making their Christmas shopping lists.
    • More than one-third of Walmart moms (31 percent) have already started making their Christmas lists versus about one-quarter of Americans overall (23 percent).
    • In fact, three-in-ten Walmart moms are planning on starting their Christmas shopping a full three months earlier this year (39 percent vs. 9 percent overall).
    • Walmart moms are more likely to start purchasing presents earlier to help stretch their budget, but are less likely than average Americans to purchase less expensive items and/or fewer items for people on their lists.
    • Walmart moms are less likely to drop someone from their Christmas list this year than Americans overall.
  • The top two desired gifts among Walmart moms are electronics (27 percent) and home improvement (22 percent).
  • A stable economy (13 percent) and an end to the war in Iraq (11 percent) are the two most desired Christmas presents the next President could give Americans this year. Among Walmart moms, lower gas prices (30 percent) and bringing the troops home (26 percent) are the most desired Christmas presents from the President-elect.

To assist moms now searching the web for advice on smart spending this season, Walmart is helping them stretch their dollars with an Online Chat on October 9 on www.walmart.com/elevenmoms. The chat, starting at noon central time through 2 pm, will offer questions, answers and advice on holiday planning with select members of its Money Saving Moms community, well known for their blogs on frugal saving tips and ideas.

* The survey was conducted by telephone using a computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) system by StrategyOne between September 19th and September 22nd, 2008 among a national probability sample of 1,000 adults 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 at the 95 percent level of confidence.

About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
Every week, millions of customers visit Walmart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Club locations across America or log on to its online store at www.walmart.com. The company and its Foundation are committed to a philosophy of giving back locally. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is proud to support the causes that are important to customers and associates right in their own neighborhoods, and last year gave more than $296 million to local communities in the United States. More information about Walmart can be found by visiting www.walmartstores.com. Online merchandise sales are available at www.walmart.com.