Strategy: Walmart is kicking off Black Friday on Thanksgiving with millions of free cookies and cups of coffee (WMT)

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Walmart's in-store Black Friday event kicks off with a party on Thanksgiving.

Walmart is kicking off its in-store Black Friday sale at 6 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving. Black Friday deals arrive on Walmart.com on November 21.

  • Walmart's Black Friday in-store event starts at 6 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving, which falls on November 22.
  • The company is throwing a party two hours before the sales start, complete with free cookies and coffee.
  • Meanwhile, select Black Friday deals on Walmart.com will begin cropping up November 8.
  • Walmart's online Black Friday sales will be out in full force on November 21 at 10 p.m. ET.

Walmart is launching its in-store Black Friday sales at 6 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving this year.

For online shoppers, Black Friday deals will appear on Walmart.com on November 21, starting at 10 p.m. ET.

But the store is also offering a selection of online Black Friday sales much sooner than that.

"If customers can't wait until Thanksgiving, we have deals starting tonight," Walmart US' chief merchandising officer Steve Bratspies said during a call with reporters.

A total of 18 select Black Friday sales will appear on Walmart.com Thursday night, featuring discounts on products like LED TVs, laptops, and a basketball hoop.

Bratspies expressed excitement about Walmart's upcoming holiday season.

"We look forward to it all year," Bratspies said. "We've been planning for it for a long time now."

He pointed out a number of innovations to Walmart's strategy for this year's Black Friday. Online Black Friday sales will kick off a day earlier than last year. What's more, Walmart will host a special pre-Black Friday gathering in the hopes of hyping up shoppers.

Read more: What you need to know about Black Friday this year

"We're throwing a big party before the event begins," Bratspies told reporters.

The chain will host its inaugural Light Up Black Friday party from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving, just before the deals land. The company expects to pass out four million cups of free Keurig coffee and two million Christmas cookies from the store's bakery to customers.

Once the in-store sales get started on Thanksgiving, Walmart will implement a few measures to help customers navigate their way. The company's app will feature color-coded Black Friday store maps. The updated map will feature pins directing shoppers "to the top eight Black Friday deals" in the store.

This Black Friday map will be color-coded to highlight hotspot departments like home, apparel, electronics, and toys, as will Walmart's event circular. Associates will also distribute printed-out maps, and the store will sport signs and balloons in order to signal special deals.

To avoid long lines at the cash registers, Walmart plans to situate yellow-sash-wearing "check out with me" associates throughout the store. These associates have the ability to check out customers within the department itself.

When it comes to Walmart's associates, Bratspies said that they will all get a 25% discount — their usual 10% discount, plus an additional 15% — on a basket of goods at some point during the holiday season. Those working Thanksgiving also will receive a free dinner.

Speaking with reporters, he added that Walmart still views Black Friday as an important event, despite the perceived decline of the sales-oriented day.

"We expect it to be a good event, like it has been in past years," Bratspies said. "The season has been stretched out a bit, but we don't think that will take any of the wind out of our sails. We just want customers to choose Walmart and we're agnostic about what channel they use."

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