Some Walmart shoppers have accused the retailer of ‘killing Christmas’ after it replaced layaway with a buy-now-pay-later service that not everybody can use

Walmart
Walmart scrapped its layaway service.
  • Walmart scrapped its layaway program before the 2021 holiday season.
  • Shoppers should now use its "buy-now-pay-later" service that's handled by Affirm, it said.
  • Some customers are furious, and say they could end up paying extra for holiday shopping.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Some Walmart shoppers are up in arms over the retail giant's decision to abandon its layaway program before the 2021 holiday period and replace it with a "buy-now-pay-later" service.

Previously, shoppers could use layaway to pay for gifts over time without incurring extra fees. They'd put down a small deposit to hold an item, and take it home once they'd paid in full.

Walmart said shoppers should now use its buy-now-pay-later service, which it offers through a partnership with Affirm that dates back to 2019, as an alternative.

With Affirm, there are no hidden or late fees, but some customers can end up paying 10% interest or more on their purchases over the course of a year, depending on their credit rating, according to Walmart. Others may not be eligible because of a lack of approved credit, or simply because their bank isn't connected to Affirm.

"Congrats on killing Christmas for SO MANY families who were DEPENDING on Layaway for Christmas & who do not qualify for Affirm," one Twitter user wrote this week.

"Just read that Walmart ended their layaway program, replacing it with Affirm. That sucks and it's going to ruin the holidays for a lot of families," another said.

Users made dozens of similar comments on Twitter.

Insider contacted Walmart for comment, but did not immediately hear back.

Earlier in the week, a spokesperson told Insider: "We are confident that our payment options provide the right solutions for our customers.

"We've learned a lot in the past year as our customers' needs and shopping habits have changed," they said.

The benefits of scrapping layaway are clear for Walmart, Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said in an email to Insider.

"It means Walmart sells the goods immediately, does not have to store them, and moves some of the financial risk to Affirm," he said.

But the change is more mixed for shoppers, he said.

"Some will like that they can get products immediately with Affirm, this gives them more flexibility and means they can shop later into the season as they don't need to make regular payments in advance," he said.

"However, others may not qualify for Affirm and some may have to pay interest on the advance which, ultimately, means the holidays will cost them more," he said.

Critics say that buy-now-pay-later services can put shoppers at greater financial risk. Customers only pay for products after they have received them, it can be tempting to spend more than you have and rack up debt, leaving shoppers with a financial headache, Saunders said.

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