CHICAGO, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc will start offering online deals reserved for Cyber Monday two days in advance this year, joining a growing list of U.S. retailers who offer web promotions over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Wal-Mart's special web promotions will be available on Black Friday, the retailer said in a statement late on Sunday. Cyber Monday is the biggest day of the year for internet shopping and follows Black Friday, which is the busiest shopping day for brick-and-mortar retailers.
Wal-Mart recently said it will boost its online inventory for Black Friday by more than half this year, as it pulls out all stops to grow online sales this holiday season. The retailer has grown its online inventory to 23 million items from 8 million at the start of the year.
Wal-Mart's step to boost online sales comes at a time when Black Friday is losing its importance as early discounts and online shopping keep shoppers away from stores.
The year-end shopping season, which spans November and December, is crucial for many retailers because the two months can account for anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of their annual sales. The National Retail Federation expects industry holiday sales to grow 3.6 percent this year to $655.8 billion.
Wal-Mart said orders that were ordered on the Wal-Mart mobile app and picked up in store, increased more than 75 percent during the first two weeks of November from the same period a year earlier. (Reporting by Nandita Bose in Chicago; Editing by Sandra Maler)