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Retail Roundup: Wal-Mart price-matching, Black Friday at Target, BAM opens bookstores

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-- In advance of the all-important holiday season, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced a price-matching program to guarantee that shoppers will snag the best deal on many items purchased at the world's biggest retailer.

Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25, shoppers who buy an eligible product at the discount chain, then later find the same item for a lower price elsewhere, will be issued a gift card for the difference. To get the price match, consumers are required to bring in the original receipt and the local competitor's printed ad to a Wal-Mart store.

Items on layaway will be eligible, but the offer excludes some products, such as groceries and prescription drugs. Black Friday and online ads from competitors also won't be counted.

-- Target Corp. said its stores will open at midnight on Black Friday, its earliest opening time for the day after Thanksgiving.

Retailers jumpy about the economy and eager to court shoppers have increasingly pushed the opening hours ever earlier on Black Friday, traditionally the kickoff to the holiday shopping season. Target also announced extended store hours throughout the season, including on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas.

-- A win for paper books? Books-A-Million Inc. announced plans to open 41 stores in early November, some in retail spaces left empty by the bankruptcy and liquidation of its rival, Borders Group Inc., based in Ann Arbor, Mich.

But it's not all rosy for Birmingham, Ala.-based BAM -- the chain recently closed 21 underperforming stores and has about 200 shops still open. Compare that to Borders, which at its peak in 2003 had more than 1,200 bookstores operating around the country.

Times are certainly changing for the book business. Sales of e-books in America finally surpassed those of adult hardbacks in the first five months of the year, and online retailer Amazon.com reported that it sells more digital books than ones printed on paper.

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-- Shan Li

Photo: A shopper leaves a Target store in San Diego. Credit: Jack Smith / Bloomberg News

 
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