Wal-Mart to launch its holiday layaway program 2 weeks earlier; shoppers have more time to pay

Lifestyle and Budget Associated Press

Wal-Mart is giving customers a head start on holiday shopping, launching its annual layaway program two weeks earlier than last year.

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It's the latest sign of retailers getting more aggressive about grabbing holiday shoppers early. Stores have offered holiday discounts earlier as they battle competition from online retailers.

Shoppers at Wal-Mart can put their items on hold starting Friday. Each item must cost $10 or more, down from the $15 limit last year. All items held must be worth a total of $50. Customers will have more time to pay for their items this year, 90 days instead of the 60 days they were given last year.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Arkansas, says it will start to offer exclusive "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" starting Sept. 4.