Walmart plans early layaways to catch ‘Star Wars’ boost

CTJJ5N Front view of a Walmart supercentre store exterior sign logo Ontario Canada  KATHY DEWITT. Image shot 05/2012. Exact date unknown.

CTJJ5N Front view of a Walmart supercentre store exterior sign logo Ontario Canada KATHY DEWITT. Image shot 05/2012. Exact date unknown.

For the second year in a row, Walmart Stores Inc will begin its holiday layaway program two weeks early, hoping for a head start to the year-end shopping season and a repeat of last year’s strong toy sales driven by “Star Wars” products.

Layaway programs, which let shoppers pay for holiday gifts in installments, tend to have a big impact on sales. Analyst estimates suggest the program may account for as much as 15 % of holiday revenues at Walmart stores in poorer areas of the United States.

Walmart expects the demand for toys to remain strong this year, after sales surged in 2015 in conjunction with the release of the latest movie in the wildly popular “Star Wars” series produced by Walt Disney Co. The next movie is due to premiere on Dec. 16.

Toys inspired by movies outperformed the market, growing by 9.4 %, according to NPD. That included $700 million in sales from “Star Wars” products, making it the No. 1 property of the year. The franchise was worth more than “Jurassic World,” “Minions” and “Avengers” combined.

Walmart will have more than 400 toys exclusively available at its stores, including Star Wars Black Series collector figures and the Barbie Camping Collection, Kehoe said.

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