How Competitors Are Responding to Wal-Mart's New Black Friday Plans

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville is upping the ante on the holiday shopping season, planning to open its doors open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, two hours earlier than a year ago. It's also guaranteeing shoppers that it will have three of the most popular items it sells if they line up inside the store during a one-hour event that day.

The move comes after the world's largest retailer re-started its holiday layaway program by adding more products to the service and starting it a month earlier than last year. 

So how are its retail competitors responding? According to Reuters,

Sears Holdings Corp's Sears and Kmart stores will be open on Thanksgiving Day. Last year, Sears kept its discount chain Kmart open on Thanksgiving but the Sears chain was closed.

This year, Sears stores will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and stay open overnight until 10 p.m. on Black Friday. Kmart has been open on Thanksgiving for the last 21 years.

Two other key competitors, Best Buy, Macy's and Kohl's, were closed on Thanksgiving and kicked off Black Friday sales at the stroke of midnight last year. This year, Best Buy, Macy's and Kohl's all plan to open at midnight again.

Target Corp. has yet to share its plans, although the Minnesota-based retail chain did announce Thursday a plan to partner with CNET, an online technology website, to place gadget reviews in its stores. The goal is to simplify electronics purchases for customers. Once again, analysts expect electronics to be a key category in holiday sales:

A survey released this week by BDO USA found that 62 percent of retail chief marketing officers said consumer electronics would be the strongest selling category this holiday season. The same amount, 62 percent, said that the category would see the most discounts and promotions during the holiday season, BDO, the assurance, tax and financial consulting firm, said.

And of course, some key Thanksgiving Day products for Wal-Mart include Apple Inc.'s iPad 2, LCD TVs and Blu-ray players.

More: If you want to see Wal-Mart's Black Friday ad, you can check it right now right here.