LAYAWAY FEE CUT: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is lowering its fee that shoppers pay for its interest-free pay-over-time program for the winter holidays. The fee to open up a layaway account will now be $5 instead of $15.
HEATED COMPETITION: The announcement comes a day after Toys R Us said it was waiving the upfront service fee for layaway orders created in-store from Sept. 4 through Oct. 31. After Oct. 31, a $5 service fee will apply. But Wal-Mart says its move is in reaction to customer feedback on its Facebook page since unveiling last month its plans to bring back its layaway program for the Christmas season. Customers who make their final layaway payment will get a full refund of the fee in a form of a Wal-Mart gift card.
HOLIDAYS COMING: Look for other merchants to sweeten layaway offerings as the holiday season approaches.