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Wal-Mart Launching 'Black Friday' at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - "Black Friday" will come early for Wal-Mart, which plans to move up the start of its holiday-specials season to 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Normally, holiday shopping begins the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday. Over the years, it has come to symbolize the day that retailers turn profitable for the year.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, launched Black Friday specials at 10 p.m. last Thanksgiving. This year, the company said it will guarantee customer access to three special deals between 10 and 11 p.m.

Wal-Mart will offer an Emerson 32-inch television for $148, an LG Blu-ray player for $38, and a $75 Wal-Mart gift card for those who buy a 16-gigabyte Apple iPad 2 for $399.

If a customer is waiting in line inside a Wal-Mart store between 10 and 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving and any of the items sell out before 11 p.m., the retailer will offer a guarantee card for the item. It must be purchased by midnight and registered online.

The product will be shipped to the store where it was purchased for the customer to pick up before Christmas. Other deals on electronics, jewelry and even tires will be staggered throughout the night.

Last year, several retailers including Target and Kohl's decided for the first time to open at midnight, a trend that could eventually replace Black Friday with Black Thursday as the unofficial holiday kickoff. This year, Sears will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving and Best Buy at midnight.

Kmart will be open on Thanksgiving and 24-hour Wal-Mart stores will be open on the holiday. The decision to keep Wal-Mart stores open followed a a 2008 stampede at a Wal-Mart in Long Island, N.Y., that killed one worker.

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