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Reuters reports that Walmart plans to begin offering its holiday layaway program two weeks earlier than last year, and will offer 20 percent more items as part of the program.

This means that holiday layaway will be available as of tomorrow - August 28 - with 40,000 SKUs eligible.

In a normal year, layaway can account for between 10 and 15 percent of holiday revenues at Walmart, but this year it could even be bigger because of licensed merchandise related to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first in a series of new films related to the iconic film franchise that is scheduled to be released this Christmas. Some 500 new Star Wars products are scheduled to be in stores as of September 4.

• The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart has decided to "stop selling semiautomatic rifles, removing what have become politicized items from shelves for reasons the retailer says are purely business." The company said that it will eliminate AR-15s and other, similar weapons, and will carry more shotguns and other hunting weapons.

Spokesman Kory Lundberg said the decision was not about politics: “It’s about what customers are buying and what they’re not,” he said.

The Journal writes that the change "comes as such semiautomatic arms, described by opponents as assault weapons, remain a flash point in the national gun debate that is faced with yet another high-profile shooting. On Wednesday morning, two television reporters were killed while conducting an interview in Moneta, Va."
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