updated 11/26/2005 5:35:03 PM ET 2005-11-26T22:35:03

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s deep discounting and expanded hours on Friday, the start of the holiday shopping season, appeared to have paid off.

The world’s largest retailer said Saturday that it expects to post a solid 4.3 percent gain in same-store sales for November, helped by better-than expected sales during the post-Thanksgiving day shopping rush. That’s at the midpoint of its growth forecast of 3 to 5 percent. The sales results cover the four-week period through Friday.

Same-store sales are sales at stores opened at least a year and are considered the best indicator of a retailer’s health.

Wal-Mart and with the nation’s other major retailers are to report final November sales results on Thursday.

Wal-Mart said in a recorded telephone message that business at its namesake stores and at its Sam’s Clubs during the company’s six-hour early bird special event exceeded company projections. The company reported “good steady traffic” throughout the stores even after the deals ended Friday.

The best-selling items were computers, dolls, portable DVD players and video games, the company said.

“We were very pleased. We opened early, and people came to us first,” said Gail Lavielle, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman. She said about 10 million people jammed the stores during the six-hour special event.

After stumbling last holiday season by not offering enough discounts, Wal-Mart made an aggressive push to win over shoppers early this season. It launched a holiday ad campaign on Nov. 1, a few weeks earlier than a year ago. And on the day after Thanksgiving, it offered deeper discounts and threw open its doors at 5 a.m, an hour earlier than a year ago.

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