Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is once again touting itself as the low-cost leader, offering its U.S. shoppers gift cards if they buy items and then see lower prices advertised at other stores during the holiday season.
The "Christmas Price Guarantee" announced Monday will apply to products bought at U.S. Walmart stores between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25. Customers who buy something at Walmart and then find the identical product listed for a lower price at another store can receive a gift card for the difference.
Items placed on layaway, where a buyer reserves merchandise by paying a deposit, are also be eligible for the program.
The world's largest retailer is marketing itself heavily as the low-price shopping destination leading up to the crucial winter holiday season.
The season, which traditionally runs from the day after U.S. Thanksgiving through Christmas, is the most important time of year for retailers. In recent years, Walmart and other U.S. chains have advertised earlier and offered deeper discounts to draw shoppers amid the struggling economy.
The push comes as Walmart tries to sustain its recent momentum. Sales at existing U.S. stores rose in July, August and September after nine quarterly declines.
The plan announced on Monday has several restrictions. It excludes Black Friday ads, expired ads, Internet prices, percentage-off ads, clearance ads, and certain other offers. Shoppers must bring in their Walmart receipt and a competitor's printed ad by Dec. 25 to get the gift card.
Walmart has already brought thousands of items back to stores, cut prices and advertised that it will match competitors' in-store prices. It also brought back holiday layaway on toys and electronics after other chains received a boost by offering the service during the downturn.
The company is trying to gain loyalty among shoppers who now spend more at competitors such as dollar stores and other chains that offer a wide assortment of goods at low prices.
Walmart is offering interest-free shopping during November and December to holders of its credit card if they pay in full within six months. It also extended a 10-cent-per-gallon discount on gasoline through Dec. 24 for users of its credit card, gift card or MoneyCard.
Shares of Wal-Mart were down 0.2 percent at $56.78 in early trading.
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