'Christmas' Makes Big Return to Wal-Mart

Following last year’s Christmas controversy, Wal-Mart announced to its employees Thursday that it is OK to once again greet shoppers by saying "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays."

Besides resurrecting its Christmas pitch, the retailer is also determined to be the leader in this year's holiday price wars.

"We, quite frankly, have learned a lesson from last year," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Linda Blakley told USA Today. "We're not afraid to use the term 'Merry Christmas'. We'll use it early, and we'll use it often."

Religious controversy was sparked last year when a woman complained to Wal-Mart that the store was replacing its "Merry Christmas" greeting with "Happy Holidays."

The woman received an e-mail response from a customer service representative, stating that “Wal-Mart is a worldwide organization and must remain conscious of this. The majority of the world still has different practices other than 'Christmas.'"

That year, the American Family Association and the Catholic League boycotted retailers including Wal-Mart for excluding the word "Christmas" from products sold in stores.

To support its Christmas deals this year, Wal-Mart reportedly will launch TV ads next week that trumpet "Christmas." The chain is also changing the name of its seasonal decorations department from "The Holiday Shop" to "The Christmas Shop."

The November-December holiday shopping period is a critical time for traders since it can account for as much as 50 percent of their total annual profits and sales.