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By Matt Townsend
NEW YORK - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. widened its pricing gap for toys over Target Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. as Black Friday approaches, according to analysis by Bloomberg Industries.
Online prices for a group of more than 100 toys were 4.7 percent higher at Target and 4.6 percent more expensive at Amazon, according to a survey taken Nov. 16. Wal-Mart was also cheaper than Toys “R” Us Inc. and Sears Holdings Corp.’s Kmart.
Target’s prices were 0.5 percent cheaper than Wal-Mart’s two weeks ago and on Nov. 9 Amazon trailed the world’s largest retailer by less than 1 percent.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the busiest shopping day of the year, and has often been considered the unofficial start to the holiday-shopping season. U.S. retail sales growth may slow to 2.8 percent this holiday season after a 5.2 percent jump last year, the Washington-based National Retail Federation said.
Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., was little changed at $56.73 at the close in New York Thursday. Minneapolis-based Target slipped 0.6 percent to $52.64, while Seattle-based Amazon dropped 3.5 percent to $204.52 and Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based Sears declined 4.6 percent to $65.19.
Amazon outpaced competitors by having all 116 toys in the survey in stock. Target was missing the most items with 24 percent unavailable, followed by Wal-Mart and Kmart at 19 percent and Toys “R” Us with 17 percent.
The study used a list of randomly chosen top holiday toys and compared prices that the retailers carried at their online stores.