Walmart has announced it will discontinue it’s policy of offering free layaway. The retail giant claims that layaways aren’t being used by it’s customers anymore because of the increasing use of credit cards.
How many suns appear in the sky over Bentonville these days?
I’m not a regular layaway shopper, but I have been known to place my children’s Christmas presents on layaway at the retail giant. My children are sneaky little buggers and have discovered ALL of my hiding places for presents… so the only HOPE I have at keeping their presents a secret is to place them on layaway. Using Walmart’s layaway has helped me keep their presents a secret and I only have to play “hide the present” for a week instead of three or four weeks at a time during the holidays.
The point is as I have picked up my holiday layaway purchases, I have YET to find a time when the line at the layaway desk was nothing less than formidable. The line of other weary shoppers trying to claim their partially paid for parcels hardly denotes a “lack of interest.”
Now, Walmart has announced they will discontinue the service effective November 19. The reaction to the news has been strong. At Planet Feedback emotions are running strong among the low income folks who depend upon layaway service for their holiday shopping.
I can’t say that the retail giant’s change in it’s layaway policy will affect my Christmas shopping patterns. I am certain that my reasons for using layaway are not commonly shared among the Walmart shopping population. However,while the service may be on a downward trend, killing the layaway program 6 weeks before Christmas is a horrible move, if only from the PR standpoint!
Again, this blog and my book are all about keeping an eye on the customers. Solving your customers problems are opportunities for your business to shine.
Walmart’s target customer is, by definition, not affluent. You don’t market to affluent customers by touting, “Low prices, always low prices.” Walmart’s target audience used to be working class people who value saving money more than they value saving time. (Visit any Walmart on any given Saturday and you’ll see what I mean.)
With that said, WHAT DOES DISCONTINUING LAYAWAY DO FOR WALMART? It’s certainly not providing great Public Relations for the retail giant, so what is it doing for them?
My suspicion is it’s yet another in series of moves where the industry leader is chasing #2 Target’s position in the market. First Walmart starts focusing on fashion. That move, in and of itself was probably a smart move. Next, Walmart joined the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce…. a bewildering move. Now, Big Blue is killing their layaway program. Who else doesn’t offer layaway? Target.
I can’t remember a time when the #1 player in the market chased #2 with such fervor, especially when #1 was so far ahead of the rest of the pack.
Bewildering seems to be the word of the hour when describing Wal-Mart’s moves.