Walmart brings back layaway. (Google)

Market Watch is reporting that retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will bring back its layaway program in U.S. stores this holiday season in order to help lower-income consumers. In 2006 Walmart canceled the plan in the U.S., except for the fine-jewelry category, as it cited costs and limited customer use. This time around, the program, running Oct. 17 through Dec. 16., is available only on electronics and toys, two of the holiday season's most popular categories.

Those items have to cost at least $15 apiece, with a total basket size of at least $50. A 10 percent down payment is required, plus a $5 service fee. The company will charge a $10 cancellation fee if merchandise isn’t picked up by Dec. 16. Fine jewelry continues year-round as a layaway option.

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To tap demand for the program, Walmart  also plans to lower prices on dozens of toys on a temporary rollback basis to $15 beginning Sept. 12. Other products eligible for the program include bicycles and video games.

Walmart decided to reinstate the program after broad-based feedback it received from store managers, executives customer-listening groups and many customer letters and phone calls, Chief Merchandising Officer Duncan Mac Naughton told MarketWatch.

Hard times call for different options. While we won't dismiss Walmart's benevolence in helping out lower-income consumers, it stands to make a lot of money that otherwise would not be spent by bringing back the layaway program. It seems like a win-win for all involved, as long as consumers don't accrue more debt than they can afford.

Read more at Market Watch.

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