This year, Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) will open its doors at 8 p.m. on Thursday to kick off Black Friday sales. The world’s largest retailer will try to lure consumers out of post-Thanksgiving naps and away from online retailers by offering steep discounts on holiday items. Despite the median net worth of families dropping by 39 percent between 2007 and 2010, and gruelingly slow growth since, the National Retail Federation expects 152 million Black Friday shoppers to hit stores this weekend, kicking off a 4.1 percent year-over-year increase in holiday shopping.
Retailers like Wal-Mart have been forced to launch and promote sales more aggressively than ever in the face of tough competition with online marketplaces like Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY).
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Massive savings will no doubt spur budget-conscious shoppers to stores on Thursday and Friday, and many would-be customers this year will face a decision at the doors of Walmart stores across the nation. Specifically, labor unions are organizing a Black Friday walkout from the world’s largest employer, staging a demonstration in pursuit of better wages and better working conditions.
The protests are backed by groups such as OUR Walmart, Making Change at Wal-Mart, and Corporate Action Network. Organizers from OUR Walmart claim to have 1,000 events planned and growing online support for their initiative. Workers want the minimum hourly wage raised to $13, more full-time work, and reliable health care insurance contributions from their employer.