Let the holiday pricing wars begin.

No longer content to serve as a showroom for gadgets that consumers go on to buy from online competitors, Target committed today to match the prices of items offered at rival online retailers for the bulk of the holiday shopping season.

Speaking at a press event in New York City, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel said the company would match the online prices offered by Amazon, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Toys ‘R’ Us, and Babies ‘R’ Us between Nov. 1 and Dec. 16.

“Target’s holiday plans are built around an outstanding shopping experience, exclusive merchandise and competitive prices,” Steinhafel said in a statement. “Our guests will be able to shop with confidence this holiday season knowing that we are intensely focused on providing them the right merchandise at the right price.”

The new policy represents a shift in thinking for the big-brand retailer, which historically matched print ad prices for local competitors. The move appears to be a defensive tactic meant to keep deal-hungry shoppers from buying elsewhere online or driving to the nearest Best Buy. Last week, Best Buy said that it plans to match the online prices of its competitors.

The effort falls within Target’s broader push to keep the retailer top of mind — online or off — this holiday season. The company is currently piloting a same-day delivery service powered by eBay Now. Target is also investing heavily in digital and mobile initiatives with iPad circulars, integration with Apple’s Passbook, and in-store QR code purchase and ship options.

Details about the temporary matching program will be available at Target.com/morereasons later this month.

[via Reuters]

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk/Flickr