NEW YORK (AP) — Cyber Monday is starting earlier and earlier.

Walmart Stores Inc. said Monday 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 pulled up 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 phrase was coined in 2005 by the National Retail Federation’s online arm, Shop.org, to encourage online buying when people returned to offices where they had high-speed Internet connections. Since then, the proliferation of smartphones has given shoppers constant web access, and now Cyber Monday is being used by retailers to pull in shoppers hungry for deals continually.

The push 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 Walmart, Macy’s and Target have started the deals earlier into Thanksgiving. And they’re now offering many of the same deals online as they do in stores on Thanksgiving.

Ravi Jariwala, a Walmart spokesman, said that three out of every four customers it polled said that they wanted to shop Cyber Monday deals earlier — after the kickoff in stores.

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