Bentonville, Ark. - In another departure from its traditional roots, Wal-Mart Stores said Thursday it will end layaway service this year due to falling demand and rising costs. The service originated in 1962 to assist the cash-strapped rural customers that Sam Walton was committed to serving. Effective Nov. 19, Wal-Mart will stop accepting items for layaway and the pickup deadline for existing layaway goods will be mid-December. Layaway services are used mainly by consumers at the lowest end of the income scale, who don’t have credit cards and may not qualify for credit.
“Demand for layaway services has declined steadily as consumers turn to current options, including on-line shopping, shopping cards and no-cost credit alternatives that were not available when the company was started,” said Pat Curran, executive VP of Wal-Mart store operations.
Following the news from Wal-Mart, Kmart reaffirmed its commitment to layaway services.
“As a value-added service and as part of the company's mission to build long-lasting relationships with our customers, Kmart continues to offer a comprehensive layaway plan at nearly 1300 locations nationwide," said Don Germano, senior VP, Kmart retail. Kmart has offered layaway services for nearly 40 years.