Walmart is bringing back layaway … sort of. The big retailer axed layaway five years ago, saying most consumers preferred to use credit cards. But that was before the U.S. economy took a wrong turn and the lower-income families who are Walmart's core consumers began ratcheting back their spending.

So now, Walmart says it is reviving layaway, but only for the holiday season and only for electronics and toys, the most popular holiday gift categories.

Walmart, which has been losing customers to dollar stores and other discount outlets, is also trying to make some calendar adjustments, in effect jump-starting the holiday shopping season. It will begin stocking Christmas items in September, a month earlier than usual, hoping to cajole shoppers into the holiday-buying spirit.

A Walmart spokeswoman has more details about the program in this video.

Whether Walmart extends the program beyond the holidays remains to be seen. Many of its competitors have been offering layaway programs of varying complexity in recent years. Kmart last year gave customers 12 weeks to pay for layaway purchases and Toys R Us began offering layaway during the 2009 holiday season. It has expanded the program since then.

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