More than two months before Black Friday, Walmart Stores Inc. gave a sneak peek of its toy strategy and layaway plan for the crucial holiday shopping season.
The world's largest retailer said Wednesday it had relied on kids for the second year in a row to test the season's front-runners for child-friendly games and gadgets.
Among the winners: crafting items, such as the Spin Master Sew Cool Sewing Machine; toys related to Disney's blockbuster film "Frozen" and the popular TV show "Doc McStuffins"; and electronics such as the Leapfrog LeapTV.
"The kids surprised us this year with their changing tastes in toys, but we were ready to react to their feedback," said Anne Marie Kehoe, vice president of toys at Walmart U.S.
The Bentonville, Ark., company, which has been struggling with slow sales, is counting on a strong holiday season for a good finish to the year, much like the rest of the retail industry.
The company is working hard to woo shoppers who analysts say may be hesitant to splurge even during the holidays. Walmart has already announced that during peak shopping hours from Thanksgiving through Christmas, it plans to keep all cash registers open at more than 3,800 stores.
Walmart said it is launching a holiday layaway program in stores on Friday, the fourth straight year it is offering such a service
"We continue to find it is a useful tool for our customers," Kehoe said. "They take advantage of it early."