Target and other brick-and-mortar retailers are treating this holiday season as an offensive against online rivals such as Amazon.com, using tactics such as price-matching to win back dominance of the Christmas shopping season.
Tired of being used as showrooms by customers testing products in person before buying them online for less, Target and Best Buy have both pledged to offer the same prices in stores as major Internet shops.
This week, Target said its debut price-matching program would run between Nov. 1 and Dec. 16, with prices on in-store items meeting the same prices offered online at Amazon, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Toys R Us.
Target also said that it will extend the same policy for products in its stores available for less on Target.com or in printed advertisements from local competitors. That program runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24.
Last week, Best Buy said it would match prices for appliances and electronics Nov. 4-17 and again from Nov. 27 through Dec. 24. The big-box chain said it will also offer free shipping for products out of stock in stores.
Several new holiday initiatives have launched in recent weeks designed to lure consumers used to the convenience of online shopping back into brick-and-mortar shops.
In stores, Target is slapping QR codes on popular toys so that harried parents trailed by kids can surreptitiously buy gifts with their smartphones. Wal-Mart is testing a same-day delivery service for goods purchased online, a tactic also employed by Nordstrom.
Shoppers are taking a breather at the moment, pausing between back-to-school shopping and what's expected to be a strong holiday season, causing major chains to report a mild 0.8 percent retail sales increase last month. But brands such as toy maker Mattel Inc. said they're seeing hearty interest ahead of the anticipated shopping surge later this fall.
To prepare, retailers are pumping up their seasonal workforce, hiring tens of thousands of temporary employees for their storefronts and distribution centers. Amazon said this week that it would pick up more than 50,000 extra workers for the holiday season.
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