Wal-Mart tries to move in on Amazon Prime's turf

Thursday, June 30, 2016

NEW YORK -- Wal-Mart is trying to get a jump on Amazon's second annual sales bonanza.

The world's largest retailer is offering a free 30-day trial on its two-day unlimited shipping service and an extra month free for paying members as it looks to sharpen its attack against the online leader.

Beginning Friday, it will offer discounts on an array of products from swimming pools to electronics that will ramp up as July goes by.

The discounts, which Wal-Mart calls "rollbacks," typically last 90 days or longer.

Wal-Mart's moves come as Amazon is expected to launch for the second year a sales bonanza called Prime Day, which it has touted as bigger than "Black Friday."

It underscores how serious Wal-Mart is about boosting its online sales, which have been slowing in the last two years.

Wal-Mart reported in May global e-commerce sales rose 7 percent in the first quarter, weaker than the 8 percent in the previous quarter and far below the 20 percent increases seen less than two years ago.

Wal-Mart's U.S. online business was a little better but still disappointing. That came as the company reported overall strong first-quarter results that were a bright spot in an otherwise somber season for many retailers.

Amazon's Prime Day last year, on July 15, was tied to its 20th anniversary, and the sale was aimed at its Prime members. The company decided after the sale it would become an annual event.

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