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Santa's coming to town early at Walmart


BENTONVILLE, Ark. Walmart has started its holiday push early, reducing prices in 3,500 stores nationwide on some of the most popular toys. Over the next 10 days, the retailer also will fast-track the opening of Christmas shops.

"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, evp and chief merchandising officer. "Consumers know we've been on their side all year with great brands, everyday low prices and our Rollback program. And this Christmas will be no different."

Walmart's decision to start holiday discounts this early in the year was reinforced by the 2008 Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey, conducted on behalf of the retailer, which measures how the recent economic downturn may affect things ranging from how much consumers will spend on gifts and whom Americans will be shopping for, to how much people plan to give in charitable donations during the holiday season. (The survey was conducted by phone using a computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) system by StrategyOne between Sept. 19 and Sept. 22, 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% level of confidence.)

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, including toys such as Barbie, the Littlest Pet Shop, Hot Wheels and Tonka products. also is currently accepting pre-orders for the release of Elmo Live, which will be available in stores and online on Oct. 14.

And all things Christmas will be available at Walmart Garden Centers, including trees, ornaments and decor, indoor and outdoor string lights and other outdoor decor.

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