NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart and Target plan to launch deals and price-matching offers earlier this year to keep up with Americans pressured by rising inflation and the holiday season. Find ways to reduce the potential sting of shopping.

For two years now, shoppers have started preparing early for the holidays, but last year it was because global supply chains fell apart as nations began to emerge from the pandemic. This year, experts believe that it is the sharp rise in prices, also linked to economies affected by the pandemic, that will force Americans to shop early to avoid prices that they believe will rise further. They can and will spread the costs because they pay more for gasoline, food, and everything else.

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The holiday sales strategy, announced Thursday, comes amid expectations of slower growth in holiday sales than a year ago. Global consulting firm AlixPartners predicts holiday sales will grow anywhere from 4% to 7%, down from last year’s 16% growth. The current inflation rate of 8.3% means retailers will see real sales decline.

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, is also extending the return window by more than a month. Gift returns will now be accepted between October 1 and January 31, compared to last year’s November 1 to January 24 return window, the company said.

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Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, is offering a broader assortment of items this year with more new brands and more Walmart-exclusives than a year ago, according to Tom Ward, the company’s chief e-commerce officer. The company is extending discounts on items like toys, home goods, electronics and beauty. It said more than half of the toys on Walmart’s expected hot holiday toy list are under $50 — with many under $25 — and nearly all of the toys are available for purchase now or for pre-order at walmart.com. Available through

Minneapolis-based Target said it will begin offering holiday deals between Oct. 6 and Oct. 8 a few days earlier than a year ago, and price matching will begin a couple of days earlier.

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Target has one of the best price-match offers at retail, competing with offers from more than two dozen other stores. This also applies to purchases at Target.com.

The goal is to hire up to 100,000 seasonal workers in stores and distribution centers this holiday season, up from a year ago.

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Walmart is taking more. A careful recruitment process This year, it is saying this week that it will hire 40,000 American workers for the holidays, most of them seasonal workers.

Last year, Walmart said it would hire about 150,000 new U.S. store workers, most of them in permanent, full-time positions, on top of 20,000 permanent distribution and warehouse workers because of the pandemic. had disrupted the supply chain.

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