In a press release this morning, Walmart (NYSE:WMT) detailed the steps it's taking to prepare for holiday shopping while the COVID-19 pandemic remains ongoing. Its plans are based both on customer feedback and data on shopping trends and consumer behavior since the global coronavirus outbreak reached America in early March, according to the statement.
The company plans to stack 20,000 temporary worker hires -- or "seasonal associates" -- on top of the approximately half-million jobs it added to its payroll in 2020. Walmart is onboarding its new hires in as little as 48 hours, and in keeping with its recent policy of increased pay for many positions, is offering seasonal associate starting pay anywhere from $15.75 to $23.75 per hour.
The press release points out many of the new temporary "positions will have the opportunity to convert to regular employment."
The retail colossus is also gearing up for an exceptionally early start to the holiday shopping season, likely in early November. Chief Merchandising Officer and Executive VP Scott McCall said numerous customers "plan on starting their holiday shopping well before Black Friday" and in response Walmart has "adjusted our strategy to adapt to these new shopping preferences."
Black Friday-style discounts will be available "throughout the season" with a special emphasis on online or e-commerce savings. Walmart is also changing its product mix to reflect consumer preference shifts prompted by COVID-19. Fresh inventory has been added to a number of popular categories including exercise and outdoor sporting equipment, "athleisure" apparel, toys, pet products, and outdoor grills.
Walmart has been vigorously reshaping and updating some of its services this year, including providing small business loans to Walmart Marketplace sellers to experimenting with aerial drone delivery.