Wal-Mart eliminates entry fee for layaway program

A Walmart employee gathers pushcarts as police man the front of a Walmart store amid heightened Black Friday security in Paramount, California on November 23, 2012 as Walmart employees and their supoorters protested nearby. The US retail giant Walmart admitted on November 27 some of its products were made at the Bangladesh garment factory that burnt down at the weekend killing 110 workers, as anger grows over lax safety standards. The fire broke out at the ground-floor warehouse of the multi-storey Tazreen Fashions factory 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of Dhaka on the night of November 24, trapping hundreds of workers on the upper upper floors, police said. AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
FREDERIC J. BROWN

NEW YORK Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) is getting rid of the $5 entry fee for customers wanting to open its interest-free, pay-over-time program for holiday gifts.

The move comes as the world's largest retailer is seeing that its low-income shoppers remain pinched in an uncertain economy.

The holiday layaway program is slated to kick off Sept. 13 and will last until Dec. 13. About 35,500 items will be available, 1,000 more than a year ago. At the same time, Wal-Mart is bringing back its $10 cancellation fee that was eliminated last year.

Wal-Mart phased out its layaway plan in September 2006 -- roughly a year before the recession began -- with the exception of jewelry. But the Bentonville, Ark., retailer brought back the program for the holiday season in 2011.