As the holiday season approaches, Walmart has announced they are doing away with their layaway program.
The program was created to allow people to put items on hold and make payments without any sort of associated fees.
In a statement, the company said:
"We've learned a lot in the past year as our customers' needs and shopping habits have changed. Last holiday season, we removed seasonal layaway from most of our stores with the exception of select jewelry items at select stores, and based on what we learned, we are confident that our payment options provide the right solutions for our customers."
Barbara Stewart, chair of human development and consumer sciences at the University of Houston, said layaway has been on its way out for quite a while. She said it costs retailers money.
"For a retailer, the product is not available in inventory to be sold," Stewart said. "Sometimes the customer doesn't follow through, and therefore you might have an out-of-season item that still retains ownership by the retailer, but they can't recoup their loss fully on that."
As an alternative, Walmart customers can structure a payment plan with Affirm.
Affirm is advertised as a "buy now, pay later" model without any fees. Customers will have to qualify to use it.
"For some consumers, this 'buy now, pay later' option works well," Stewart said. "For others, the challenge, it's a route for financial disaster by buying more than you really can afford to based on your budget."
Unlike Walmart's layaway program, Affirm charges 10% to 30% interest, but customers get the items immediately. Their website said that Affirm may offer special financing as low as 0% interest on some of their products.
"Consumers need to realize if you're buying a small item, a small electronic and you're going to pay for it over 12 months, will you still be using that?" Stewart said. "Will you still be getting service from that good in 12 months?"