Wal-Mart joins the Thanksgiving rush

That 'Black Friday' rush is coming a little earlier this year, Wal-Mart says. Two hours earlier.
That 'Black Friday' rush is coming a little earlier this year, Wal-Mart says. Two hours earlier. Mike Derer

Wal-Mart certainly wasn't going to be left in the dust this Thanksgiving.

The world's largest retailer announced Tuesday that it will begin its in-store Black Friday sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, two hours earlier than last year.

In addition, will begin offering Black Friday sales on a limited number of items Thursday morning — likely before the turkey is even in the oven. 

The announcement comes as a growing list of retailers — from Best Buy to Toys R Us, and most recently Target — said they will push their Black Friday initiatives to Thursday.

"We're always looking at what's going on in the competitive environment," said Duncan Mac Naughton, executive vice president, chief merchandising and marketing officer for Walmart U.S.

The giant retailer will bring back its one-hour guarantee during events at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, followed by an 8 a.m. event on Black Friday. If customers are in a designated line within an hour of one of these sales' kickoffs, they are guaranteed to receive an item at a certain price either that night or before Christmas.

The program is expanding to 21 products this season from three last year, ranging from a Vizio 60-inch LED HDTV for $688, to a one-carat diamond and sterling silver pendant and earring set for $98. The stores will integrate wristbands so shoppers can browse the store while waiting for the events to begin.

Wal-Mart is also ramping up its social media and online components, advertising "manager's specials" — when managers will lower prices for an entire category — on its local Facebook pages, and curating deal maps on its website to be viewed while in-store.

"Our goal is to have a lot of folks come shop with us at 6 p.m.," Naughton said.

—By CNBC's Krystina Gustafson 

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