Wal-Mart Lowers Fee for Holiday Layaway Program

Walmart layawayBy ANNE D'INNOCENZIO, AP Retail Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) is lowering its fee that shoppers pay for its interest-free pay-over-time program for the winter holidays.

The fee to open up a layaway account will now be $5 instead of $15, the world's largest retailer said Tuesday.

The announcement comes a day after Toys R US announced it was waiving the upfront service fee for layaway orders created in store from Sept. 4 through Oct. 31. After Oct 31, a $5 service fee will apply. Also, there will be no minimum purchase price. Customers have until Dec. 16 to pick up their orders.

Wal-Mart says the move wasn't in response to the Toys R Us announcement, but rather in reaction to customer feedback on its Facebook (FB) page since announcing last month its plans to bring back its layaway program for the Christmas season. The new program, which starts Sept. 16 and runs through Dec. 14, will last a month longer than last year's and will include more items than the toys and electronics featured last year.

"When our customers speak up, we listen," said Duncan MacNaughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer at Wal-Mart's U.S. namesake division, in a statement. "We believe this rollback strengthens our layaway offering. It's even more attractive to our customers and makes Wal-Mart more competitive in the marketplace."

The discounter, based in Bentonville, Ark., reiterated that shoppers who make their final layaway payment will get a full refund of the fee in a form of a Wal-Mart gift card.

Like last year's program, Wal-Mart is still requiring that each item is priced at $15 or more, and the total layaway purchase must be at least $50.

A down payment of 10 percent or $10, whichever is greater, is required and will be applied to the purchase, the same terms as last year. If the order is cancelled or not paid in full, the fee is not refunded, but no additional cancellation fee will be charged, as was the case last year.

Layaway became popular during the Great Depression. Before the most recent recession, easy credit had made it largely a thing of the past. But when credit dried up and the job market soured, Sears, Toys R Us and other merchants added back or expanded the service.

Toys R Us introduced its layaway program in stores in 2009 for bigger items like bikes, swing sets, and play kitchens, and has added more categories each year. In 2011, layaway was expanded to include all items at Toys R Us and most items at Babies R Us.

Citing increased costs and lower customer demand, Wal-Mart phased out its layaway in September 2006 - roughly a year before the recession began - with the exception of jewelry. But the discounter faced criticism because it built its reputation on helping the low-income shoppers.

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AP Retail Writer Mae Anderson in New York contributed to the report.


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15 Comments

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MsCNoir

I'll be impressed when brick and mortar WalMart honors WalMart.com's prices...

September 13 2012 at 10:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jodiw66

hey people dont p ut walmart down i work there its not a bad place i think the layawayi s a great thing to do for the holiday

September 08 2012 at 8:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jodiw66

dont put walmart down i work there its not bad as u people say

September 08 2012 at 8:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rmij

This is all baloney. We used to put things on lay-away for free. If we couldn't end up buying it, the store got the merchandise back and either re-sold it or took it as a tax loss. Walmart and all others who are charging for this service are making money off it. Don't fool yourselves.

September 08 2012 at 8:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike & Christine

Thank u walmart for thinking about the average working family that can not afford big items at one time, this layaway program can allow my husband and I to b able to buy christmas for our two kids, thanks

September 08 2012 at 7:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
clistman

People crack me up like it is only Walmart? who do bad things. Look at HOme Depot have you noticed alot of new employees? Why they are salary dumping and people who have been there for a while and making ok money are getting fired replaced by people making min wage? Thats sad... Walgreens has done the same thing. They accused an older lady who had been there for about 15 years and was a great help and always made sure you didnt miss a coupon with stealing and fired her.. I dont believe it for a second.. Salary dumping and now every few weeks new employees cause anyone working for min wage can find another job and are most likely to steal to make up the difference

September 06 2012 at 5:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard

big deal layway used to be to get you tobuy arnt they generius

September 05 2012 at 1:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karen Hophan

With the recent killing in front of Walmart, there is nothing they can do to have me shop there again!

September 05 2012 at 1:12 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Hugo Adames

Why Walmart Rhode Island not have layaway?

September 05 2012 at 12:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Vicky

@jdykbpl45 Newsflash for you. Walmart has been around long before President Obama became president.

September 05 2012 at 12:41 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Vicky's comment
jdykbpl45

Vicky any idiot, but you, knows that. The fact that they are doing lay away, after ending it, Times under Obama are not good.

September 05 2012 at 3:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply