Not much has changed since Walmart brought back layaway in 2011 after having discontinued the program in 2006. Two years ago, the company was struggling to improve same-store sales performance as many of its core customers faced personal financial challenges. Walmart has announced it will offer layaway again for the upcoming holiday season with a few program changes from the past.
This year, Walmart will offer layaway without the $5 program fee it charged in 2011 and '12. The down payment requirement will remain the same: $10 or 10 percent of the purchase, whichever is greater. Customers will have 90 days to pay down their layaway items this year versus 60 days during last year's holiday season. The retailer will offer an additional 1,000 items on layaway this year versus last. While Walmart didn't charge customers who cancelled their layaways in 2012, it will cost customers who do so $10 this year.
Walmart gets ready for the upcoming holiday season having just reported a decline of 0.3 percent in same-store sales during the second quarter. The company also reduced its annual outlook on concerns that its customers will continue with their frugal ways.
"Times are tough and it's not easy for many Americans — they are watching every penny," said Duncan Mac Naughton, Walmart's chief merchandising and marketing officer, in a statement. "All year long, but especially during the holidays, our customers need a low price leader. This year, we are committed to doing everything we did last year to help Americans save money — plus more. More savings, more layaway items and our commitment that they can give their families a great Christmas on a budget."
How important is layaway to consumers' perceptions of a retailer's price position?