Wal-Mart kicks off Cyber Monday on Friday

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Cyber Monday is starting earlier and earlier.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is kicking off its so-called “Cyber Monday” deals at 12:01 a.m. EST Friday, two days earlier than last year.

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Last year, it pulled up the deals to the Sunday evening after Thanksgiving for the first time.

Cyber Monday — the Monday after Thanksgiving — was coined in 2005 the National Retail Federation’s online arm called Shop.org to encourage online shopping when people returned to offices where they had high speed Internet access. Now with Internet access everywhere, stores are seeking to keep pace with shoppers eager for cyber deals even earlier.

The move comes as Wal-Mart aims to better compete with online leader Amazon.com for customers. Wal-Mart reported its online sales growth accelerated in the third quarter.