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Stores prepare for holiday shoppers

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1.3 million workers across 4,000 stores are getting ready for what Walmart calls the most important day of the year. (Source: CNN) 1.3 million workers across 4,000 stores are getting ready for what Walmart calls the most important day of the year. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) - This year's shopping season is six days shorter than last year's and that means strong competition among retailers looking for any advantage to lure in shoppers.

1.3 million workers in 4000 stores around the country building up to one event, Black Friday.

The world's biggest retailer said it's the most important shopping day of the year.

"We call it the super bowl of retail, it's the most important day of the year," said Steve Bratspies, the Executive Vice President for General Merchandise.

Say goodbye to tomatoes and hello to toys and televisions.

"If you go into a supercenter at around two on Thanksgiving Day, it looks like a food store. It's everyone getting ready for those last-minute thanksgiving items. But then, two hours later we'll go from the largest food store to the largest [general merchandise] store in the world," he said.

But Walmart can't sell what it doesn't have, so it's buying more to keep up with demand.

"We bought over 65 percent more TV's this year, five times as many sheet sets, two times as many tablets," Bratspies said.

And customers won't need to wait for the deals. Thanksgiving Thursday is the new Black Friday.

Kmart, Best Buy, Target and Walmart are all opening earlier this year.

Walmart's Black Friday deals start at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Walmart said its customers bought nearly 5,000 items a second during its four hours of Thanksgiving Day sales last year.

"We did over 10 million transactions. That was about 1.3 million TV's, 1.8 million towels, 1.3 million toys, so an awful lot comes in that first initial rush," Bratspies said.

Keeping all of the product flowing can take up to 600 of the store's employees.

"So it's a seamless move from off the truck to the back room on to the floor. Every store is mapped out for an exact location of where all of our product is going to be," he said.

And when it's all over...it all starts again.

"Black Friday is actually a 52 week planning process for us. We literally start the day after Black Friday one year and start planning for the next year," Bratspies said.

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