Image: Christmas shopping in Wal-Mart
Tim Boyle  /  Getty Images file
Christmas is coming early to Wal-Mart this year. After a survey revealed that consumers will be shopping earlier to stretch holiday dollars, the chain announced it would start cutting prices on toys in its stores.
updated 10/2/2008 3:34:50 PM ET 2008-10-02T19:34:50

Christmas is coming early for Wal-Mart. Expecting a weak holiday shopping season, the company announced Wednesday it would be cutting prices on several toys in 3,500 stores across the U.S.

Wal-Mart said it made the call after conducting a survey that showed consumers will start Christmas shopping earlier this year in order to stretch their holiday dollars.

Though Wal-Mart caters to low-income shoppers, retailers have been hurt by sluggish spending due to rising food and energy prices, the housing slump and a generally weak economic climate. The industry doesn't see a quick fix to those trends and is anticipating a subdued holiday season.

Wal-Mart's shares were effectively flat on Oct. 1, losing only 0.03 percent, or 2 cents, to $59.87, in morning trading. The reaction may appear to send a message of indifference, but the price was strong compared with the Dow Jones industrial average, which fell 1.6 percent, or 170.05 points, to 10,680.61.

Wal-Mart said it will cut prices on 10 popular toys to $10.00 each, including certain Barbie Dolls, Play-Doh Ice Cream Shop, specific Hot Wheels toys and Bakugan by Spin Master, a game many experts cite as one of the "hot" toys this year.

It will also open Christmas shops within its stores over the next 10 days, which will offer deals such as an ornament value pack for $5.00.

Thanks to its size, Wal-Mart has fared better than its industry peers through this weak period by aggressively cutting prices. Last month, the company reported an increase in August same-store-sales, while others such as J.C. Penny faltered.

© 2012 Forbes.com

Video: Wal-Mart already in Christmas mode

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