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Walmart hopes to make stores livelier for the holidays

FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, file photo, a shopper, left, walks with a store associate in the toy section at Walmart in Teterboro, N.J. As more shoppers shift online, Walmart hopes to make its stores more fun this holiday season. The chain will have parties for customers at its stores for the first time, increase the number of product demonstrations and expand the role of employees who last year helped people find the shortest register lines. Many retailers are trying to make stores more inviting even as they improve online services. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
October 31, 2017 - 9:07 PM

NEW YORK - As more shoppers shift online, Walmart hopes to make its stores more fun this holiday season.

The nation's largest retailer will have parties for customers at its stores for the first time, around the themes of toys, entertainment and curated gifts. It's increasing the number of product demonstrations and will expand the role of employees who last year helped find customers the shortest register lines. This year, they'll assist customers in the toys and electronics areas every weekend and be at the online orders pickup stations as Christmas approaches.

The plan for the critical holiday season underscores how retailers are trying to make stores more inviting even as they improve online services. Rival Target now has dedicated staff in areas like clothing, beauty and consumer electronics.

Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, says it has tripled the number of products online to more than 60 million from last year's holiday season and is offering more exclusive merchandise.

However, while retailers like Target and Best Buy are waiving their minimum for free shipping again this holiday season, Walmart is sticking to its $35 threshold for free two-day free shipping on 2 million products.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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