Black Friday at Walmart could be in jeopardy

November 21, 2012 4:52:45 AM PST
Federal labor officials said Tuesday they don't expect to decide before Thursday on whether to seek an injunction on behalf of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to stop a union-backed group from encouraging worker walk-outs that are expected to culminate Friday. That's the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

The world's largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., on Friday filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. It said the demonstrations organized by union-backed OUR Walmart threaten to disrupt its business and intimidate customers and other store workers.

Meanwhile, OUR Walmart filed its own charge on Tuesday with the labor board. It cited attempts by Wal-Mart to deter workers from participating in what the group believes to be legally protected walkouts.

Nancy Cleeland, a spokeswoman at the NLRB, said Monday that the board aimed to move quickly to assess the merit of Wal-Mart's complaint since it involved charges of illegal picketing. If the labor board decides in Wal-Mart's favor, the matter still must go to district court.

Retail trouble pre-Black Friday continued as Best Buy stock fell $1.79, or 13 percent on Wall Street, to $11.96, its lowest in more than a decade. The company, which has struggled for years against increased competition from online electronics retailers, turned in another dismal earnings report.

Black Friday strategy

There are two kinds of discounts -- decent deals you can get all weekend long, and doorbusters -- limited-quantity, in-store-only items that the retailers take a loss on.

The big doorbusters are TVs. On Thursday, KMart has a 32-inch LCD for $97 while supplies last. Sears has a Toshiba 50-inch LED that normally retails for $799, marked down to $299.

You want the iPad 2? It's at Walmart Thursday night for $399, and you get a $75 Walmart gift card.

The Xbox with Kinect is on sale Thursday night at Target for $50 off.

Best Buy is bucking the trend and opening Black Friday morning with deals that include some TVs and an Asus laptop half-off at just $250. .

Kohls is also opening Friday, not Thursday, and has a four-quart programmable slow cooker for $9.99.

An d there's always Cyber Monday, sometimes the busiest online shopping day of the year, but it wasn't always. This year, comScore, a research firm, estimates that sales will reach $1.5 billion on Cyber Monday, up about 20 percent from last year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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