While many retailers spend much of the holiday season trying to catch the spend of the most affluent and well-capitalized of consumers, Walmart is carrying on in its annual tradition of bringing the joys of holiday spending to all budget levels by getting out early with its seasonal layaway policies for holiday 2016.
Walmart's layaway program officially opened for business in September, giving consumers almost 100 days between now and Christmas to get the item paid off. And this year, Walmart is making layaway particularly affordable by making the minimum amount to open a layaway account a mere $10.
"There is no opening fee for customers to start a layaway account, and they only need to put down 10 percent (or $10, whichever is greater). Walmart has kept its minimum threshold again this year. Customers can put items as low as $10 on layaway with a $50 minimum basket. Customers have until Dec. 12 to pay off their account," Walmart noted in this year's announcement.
Layaway is an interesting proposition for retailers during the holiday season and, according to some experts, is a particularly ingenious form of a loyalty program.
"While some people wait for Black Friday deals to start their holiday shopping, many customers started using layaway programs weeks ago. Those shoppers, experts say, have likely been to the store more than once to make payments since, creating a valuable form of customer loyalty," one MarketWatch commentator noted.
This year, according to Deloitte, about 17 percent of all shoppers will make use of a layaway program. And that 17 percent represents an interesting opportunity for retailers.
“Every time you come in to pay, [retailers] have the opportunity to talk to you, market to you, upsell you,” Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at The NPD Group, said. “It’s the opportunity to create the ultimate loyal consumer."