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On Monday Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced that it’s kicking off its so-called “Cyber Monday” deals at 12:01 a.m. EST Friday for the first time ever as it aims to grab customers ahead of its competitors.  Last year, the world’s largest retailer started the “Cyber Monday” deals to the Sunday evening after Thanksgiving for the first time.

Cyber Monday, which falls on the Monday after Thanksgiving, is typically the busiest day of the year for online shopping. The idea to start Cyber Monday deals earlier follows what’s been happening with Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, which used to officially kick off the holiday shopping season in stores.

Over the past few years, retailers such as Wal-Mart, Macy’s and Target have started the deals earlier into Thanksgiving. Now many of the same deals are being offered online as well as in stores on Thanksgiving.

The move comes as Wal-Mart aims to compete more aggressively with online leader  Wal-Mart’s now offers 23 million products online, nearly triple from last year’s holiday shopping season.

ComScore predicts online spending on Cyber Monday will jump to $3.5 billion from $3.12 billion last year.

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