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Are You Going to the Walmart Party?

Why the retailer is throwing more than 20,000 holiday parties this season.

A man stands on a red ladder, arranging products on a shelf.
A Walmart employee prepares for Black Friday last year.
Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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At last! Halloween is done, the veil of decency has been thrown back, and retailers are putting “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on full blast. Though Walmart is forever pursuing Amazon on the e-commerce front, the retailer has decided to make use of its brick-and-mortar reach by throwing more than 20,000 holiday parties at its Supercenters over the next two months. By “parties,” we mean over-the-top shopping opportunities where customers can “test and taste top items” and kids can play with toys. One exhausted Santa Claus will make 24,000-plus stops at Walmarts across the nation.

A new Deloitte survey predicts that this will be the first time that people’s online holiday purchases will outweigh their in-store spending, and to that end, Walmart is tripling the amount of products it’s selling online over the holidays. But why is Walmart also putting so much money and effort into its stores this season — a bigger investment than it’s ever made, according to chief marketing officer Tony Rogers?

Like many retailers, Walmart is trying to make its stores more “experiential” in an effort to offer people something they can’t get while browsing the ’net from their couches. Dozens of hip boutiques have coffee bars now, brands from American Girl to Coach have dedicated areas for creating personalized product, and American Eagle is literally letting shoppers do their laundry in one of its New York locations. Walmart is betting on product demos and appearances from Santa to draw out the crowds. Will that lure you in?