Walmart (WMT) has been on a tear lately, what with 12 straight quarters of sales growth. But the real test of how well the discounter is faring against the likes of Target (TGT) and Amazon.com (AMZN) will be the upcoming holiday season.
And the chain has made clear it will fight hard. Wal-Mart Stores, the chain’s parent company, said on Wednesday that it has started its holiday season layaway program and is clearly placing a major bet on the softening toy sector, hoping that Hatchimals and Star Wars will lead to a Christmas bonanza.
Under the layaway program, which Walmart brought back in 2011 after a five year break to stoke sales among its lower-income, weak credit and underbanked shoppers, customers can put down as little as $10 on items costing at least $50 to reserve the item in question but must pay the balance by Dec. 11.
The program allows such shoppers to make big-ticket item purchases such as electronics and big toys, not to mention help the retail get a sense of what customers want early on in the Christmas period. Walmart made layaway available on Sept.1, a day earlier than last year. The retailer had dropped the long standing program in 2006 but revived it five years later.
Market research firm NPD Group in July said that U.S. toy sales grew 3% in the first half of 2017 and said it expects holiday season sales to bring full year growth to 4.5%, helped by the upcoming Star Wars movie. Still that would be a slowdown after 5% growth last year and 7% the year before.
Anne Marie Kehoe, Walmart U.S.’s vice president of toys, said the retailer would stock a larger variety of Star Wars items at different price levels the year.
Here are the 25 toys Walmart thinks will be the holiday season’s most popular
– Hatchimals Surprise (*Coming soon, details to be released on Oct. 6)
– littleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit
– Num Noms Nail Polish Maker
– FurReal Friends Roarin’ Tyler The Playful Tiger
– Barbie DreamHorse and Doll
– Fisher-Price Zoom ’n Crawl Monster
– L.O.L. Surprise Fizz Factory
– Soggy Doggy Board Game
– Mayka Toy Block Tape
– Frozen Sleigh (*Walmart exclusive)
– Adventure Force Light Command Light-Up Motorized Blaster (*Walmart exclusive)
– Monster Jam Grave Digger (*Walmart exclusive)
– Huffy Electric Green Machine Trike
– Nerf Rival Nemesis MXVII-10K
– RECOIL Starter Set
– New Bright Radio Control Tumblebee
– VTech Pop-a-Balls Drop and Pop Ball Pit (*Walmart exclusive)
– Radio Control DashCam (*Walmart exclusive)
– Dusty the Super Duper Garbage Truck
– Imaginext DC Super Friends Batman Batbot Xtreme
– Paw Patrol My Size Lookout Tower
– Disney/Pixar Cars 3 Ultimate Florida Speedway
– Mickey and the Roadster Racers Transforming Hot Rod Mickey
– Disney Junior Doc McStuffins Baby All in One Nursery