Wal-Mart gears up to compete on Black Friday

Walmart  REUTERS/Mike Blake

Wal-Mart Stores said on Thursday its U.S. stores will feature color-coded sections for different product categories on Black Friday, as it prepares to compete for shoppers on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Toys, electronics, apparel and other departments will be color-coded in store for the first time so that shoppers can easily find deals. The codes will be available on the retailer's Black Friday circular and store maps.

For years, Black Friday has marked the start of the holiday shopping season in the United States with retailers offering steep discounts. But its popularity has been on the wane with the rise of online shopping and inexpensive deals throughout the year.

The holiday shopping season, which runs through Christmas on Dec. 25, can account for as much as 40 percent of retailers’ annual sales.

Steve Bratspies, Wal-Mart's chief merchandising officer, told reporters on a conference call that the retailer is prepared to draw in shoppers this holiday season.

"We know the categories and items customers are looking for, have focused our assortment on those top items, pricing them so we cannot be beat and buying deep to ensure more availability," he said.

Wal-Mart will kick off Black Friday deals at 12:01 a.m. EST online on Thanksgiving morning and at 6 p.m. local time in its stores.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)