For years, struggling parents in New Jersey fulfilled their kids’ Santa lists by taking advantage of Walmart’s holiday layaway program.

From late August through December shoppers could purchase toys on layaway and pay a bit at a time until the item was paid off right before Christmas and pick it up in the store. It guaranteed the toys would be there without having to pay for it all upfront.

No more. The retail giant has done away with the layaway program this year. Not a single store in the country is doing it anymore.

Instead, there’s a program called “Affirm” in which you can buy the item and have it right now while paying it off over a 3-month to a 24-month time frame for a price.

Gee, kind of like, I don’t know, putting it on a credit card? I suppose for those struggling to the point their credit is poor enough that a credit card was not an option Walmart thinks they’re doing some grand thing.

“We’ve learned a lot in the past year as our customers’ needs and shopping habits have changed. Last holiday season, we removed seasonal layaway from most of our stores with the exception of select jewelry items at select stores, and based on what we learned, we are confident that our payment options provide the right solutions for our customers,” Walmart said in a statement.”

So for toys, jewelry, home goods, video games, musical instruments, baby items and tools you can put in a loan application and pay 10% to 30% interest. But the fact that there are no late fees, annual fees or prepayment fees is supposed to give you a holiday glow.

I feel bad for struggling families in the Garden State who used the layaway in years past to bring some Christmas magic to their kids. I think the interest rate is going to be a dealbreaker for many families. It’s their business and they’re allowed to run it as they see fit. But you know there will be kids who get less now.

In years past mysterious do-gooders have secretly paid off huge Walmart layaway bills for New Jersey families to help out total strangers at Christmas. Here’s just one example from 2017 where some mystery Santa paid off the layaways for more than 200 New Jersey families. It added up to more than $40,000.

It’s good to see there are still some kind people in this world even if they’re not found in a corporate boardroom.

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