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Walmart's Layaway Program Offers Christmas in September

(Credit: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images)Following success last year, Walmart is set to begin its layaway program a month early.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant will run its Christmas layaway program from Sept. 16 through Dec. 14 in an effort to give parents more time to shop and pay for items this year.

"Last year, millions of Americans relied on layaway at Walmart to provide a great Christmas for their families," said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer, Walmart U.S., in a written statement. "Because of their feedback, we're offering the service again this year and making it better than ever."

For fans who "like" the company's Facebook page, Walmart will allow users to begin layaway on Sept. 14, two days early.

This year the company will allow customers to lay away small home appliances and sporting goods in addition to toys and electronics. (Shoppers can only lay away items valued at $15 or more.)

The layaway program requires a down payment of $10 or 10 percent, whichever is greater, and a $15 open fee. The open fee is more than three times the rate in 2011.

According to a spokeswoman for Walmart, the company last year charged a $5 open fee and $10 cancellation fee.

"If you see it through, like the majority of our customers do, the money will be returned," a spokeswoman for Walmart told ABC News.

"When it came to the fees, what mattered most to our customers was getting them back," the spokeswoman added.

This year the retailer will refund the "open fee" in the form of a Walmart gift card after customers make the final layaway payment.

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