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24 November 2006

Layaway nearly laid to rest
By Laura Youngs Staff Writer
The Augusta Chronicle

Like a castoff from a bygone era, layaway is disappearing from stores as consumers increasingly turn to credit cards as their preferred "buy now, pay later" method.

That's problematic for diehards such as Cheryl Hadley. The Martinez resident said layaway lets her buy the hot holiday gifts early, without breaking her bank account.

"It gives you a way to lock in what you want, and manage what you can afford," said Ms. Hadley, who has a 6-year-old and 13-year-old.

But it's easy to see why stores where layaway traffic is scarce are eager to get rid of it.

Layaway departments require extra staff and floor space to store goods. If a customer doesn't follow through on the purchase months later, the store might have to restock the merchandise at a discounted price.

Wal-Mart announced last month that it would close out its program by Dec. 8, and online petitions from customers failed to dissuade the discount giant. Scott Krugman, a spokesman for the National Retail Federation, said Wal-Mart is merely following the trend.

"If there was enough demand for it, retailers would still have it," he said.

Because so few people use it, the loss of layaway won't significantly hurt retail holiday sales, Mr. Krugman said.

A product of the Great Depression, layaway helped families buy goods through installment plans that ranged from a few weeks to several months.

Consumers are now more likely to use credit cards, which sometimes have 0 percent introductory periods and are tied to rewards or frequent-flier mile programs. In-store credit programs, such as those offered by electronics and furniture retailers, have also grown in popularity.

According to the 2004 Survey of Consumer Finances by the Federal Reserve, 46.2 percent of families hold credit card balances, up 1.8 percentage points from a 2001 survey.

The median balance, at $2,200, increased 10 percent from the previous survey.

Some experts say layaway can be more cost-effective and offer help for those who can't or won't get a credit card.

"One of the great principles of financial responsibility is delayed gratification," said Brent Neiser, the director of collaborative programs at the National Endowment for Financial Education.

Indeed, Ms. Hadley says layaway prevents her from doing what many holiday shoppers are guilty of - overspending and going into debt. She said that during the holidays, she sticks to stores that still offer layaway.

Layaway requires more planning on the part of the buyer, Mr. Neiser said.

"It forces you to make a choice, set a goal," he said.

Martinez residents Patsy Tumminello and her husband agree.

The layaway fans don't have any credit cards because Ms. Tumminello said her husband is averse to the finance charges.

Layaway plans, even if they charge a service fee, usually don't apply interest to the purchase.

Layaway might be old-fashioned, but it hasn't gone the way of the dodo just yet. Online layaway retailers, such as Lay-Away.com, have started up in recent years to capture holdout consumers.

Lay-Away.com owner Rob Holland said he started the company about three years ago because, suffering from bad credit himself, he saw a market for those who still need layaway. The online store gives customers up to six months to pay for items purchased on the site, with some fees included.

Mr. Krugman said consumers should check out online layaway plans just as closely as traditional stores to make sure they understand the terms.

As more consumers migrate toward credit, Mr. Neiser said, layaway remains a better option for those with limited incomes.




10 December 2006

Many retailers no longer offer customers the option, although those that do still attract some loyalists.

By TAMMY JOYNER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 12/10/06
Kaye Lewis is a self-professed "Layaway Queen."

She had a doll collection and baby crib rails on hold at Kmart in Jonesboro. A few miles away at Wal-Mart, she has a television, VCR and Disney-themed baby items on layaway.

"I've used it all my life," said the 44-year-old Hampton resident.

She does a lot of shopping for her husband, son, daughter and 1-year-old granddaughter using layaway. It's so ingrained in Lewis' shopping philosophy that she's taught her children to use it whenever possible.

"Not everyone has $100 in their pocket or can buy at one time," she said.




6 November 2006

Kmart stands by layaway policy

Oakland Tribune - Blanca Torres



The upstairs layaway loft in the Kmart in Pleasant Hill is a holding place for batches of kids clothes, mountain bikes or three- drawer dressers someonecan't buy all at once.

On one side of the room, bundles of merchandise are stored in bins lining the wall. The rest of the space has racks of plastic bags filled with goods hanging like ripe fruit on a tree.

The room is only partly filled now, but in the month to come, it will be packed with goods that will be wrapped and placed under someone's Christmas tree -- as long as they are paid for and picked up by Dec. 12.

Kmart, which requires a 25 percent down payment and a $5 fee, is one of the last national retailers that offers layaway for most of the items it sells. Other retailers include jewelry stores and the online retailer Lay-away.com. Sears offers layaway for select items such as jewelry and large appliances.

Wal-Mart, on the other hand, recently announced plans to end its layaway program by mid-December.

"Demand for layaway service has declined steadily as consumers turn to other options," said Pat Curran, executive vice president of store operations for Wal-Mart, in a statement.

Christine Caspillo has seen the shift firsthand. She has worked at the Kmart in Pleasant Hill for more than seven years and spent most of that time in the store's layaway department. She remembers the layaway counter was busy year round, with customers coming and going on a daily basis.

Now, busy periods happen only around back-to-school or the winter holidays. The counter, burrowed in the back of the store near the men's department, sits idle most days with its gray Dutch doors only swinging open when a customer asks.

When asked if layaway has changed, Caspillo nods her head. Layaway isn't what it used to be.

"It was really, really busy," Caspillo said. "I guess people have less money, and they spend less."

Or, as experts explained, people would rather use credit cards because buy now and pay later has become far more appealing than the buy over time model.

"Layaway is something of the past. It's one of those things that has seen its day, and it's over," said Britt Beemer, president and chief executive of America's Research Group based in Charleston, S.C. "As charge cards become more popular, there's no reason for layaway."

Kmart disagrees.

After Wal-Mart announced its plans to ax layaway at its stores, Kmart made a statement reaffirming its "commitment to layaway," a service it has offered for close to 40 years.

"We are proud to offer a wide variety of products to customers with very diverse needs," said Don Germano, a Kmart senior vice president, in the statement. "With the holidays approaching, Kmart wants shoppers to know that we think it is especially important that this service be available."

On top of the 25 percent down payment, Kmart charges a $5 service fee for using layaway and requires that items be paid for within eight weeks. There is also a $5 cancellation fee. Customers who have made payments and later cancel the service can receive a refund for their payments minus the service and cancellation fee.

Barbara Hayes of Concord lost $10 out of $40 worth of payments she made on a bike for her son after he decided he didn't want it.

She put the bike on layaway because she didn't have enough money to buy it at the time and didn't want to use credit.

"I usually pay cash," Hayes said. "I don't have any credit cards. I'm better off without them."

The practice of paying cash is becoming less and less common. People are more comfortable with using credit and going into debt than in years past, said Brad Stroh, co-chief executive of Freedom Financial Network, a San Mateo-based debt counseling firm.

"We're always much bigger advocates of buying what you can afford today," Stroh said. "A much better scenario is to save up and buy something."

Using layaway is free at Lay-away.com, where about 95 percent of the goods sold are appliances and electronics. Robert Holland started the site about three years ago after struggling with poor credit and savings habits as a college student at Illinois State University.

He said layaway has a stigma of being a tool for low-income consumers with bad credit, but it can be a useful tool for consumers who use credit cards. Often, shoppers spend above their means simply because they have the credit limit to do so.

"With a credit card you can say, 'I'll just pay if off later,' and then you never pay it off and three years later, you are still paying the interest on it," Holland said. "With layaway, you're not going to get the product until you pay for it, so it's more likely you're going to stay within your budget."

Stroh also pointed out that America has a negative savings rate, which means people are spending more than they are saving.

"Whenever you're buying a good today, think, can you afford it and what is the lifetime cost of that item?" he said. "How many hours do you have to work to pay it off?"



16 September 2008

Excerpt from CreditCards.com, By Jeremy Simon

The once-bustling store layaway counter is no more, largely erased by the rise of the credit card.

Retailers themselves acknowledge this fact. "The use of credit has pretty much taken over the notion of layaway, especially in the last decade or so," says Kathy Grannis, spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation in Washington, D.C. The widespread availability of plastic has made the idea of layaway seem outdated. With credit cards, "consumers can purchase and consume immediately rather than delaying the gratification associated with a layaway," says Joydeep Srivastava, marketing professor at the University of Maryland.

Still, layaway hasn't vanished completely: You just need to know where to look.

Layaway goes online
To find layaway options in the 21st century, the best bet may be to turn on your computer. Currently, the service has a small online presence, with a handful of companies offering consumers the opportunity to make a series of incremental, interest-free payments over the Internet. "It's the same with grocery shopping -- if you can do it online and have it shipped to you, why not?" says Robert Holland, owner of the appropriately-named Web site Lay-away.com.

Holland says he was the first to take layaway online with the creation of Lay-away.com in 2002. "When I started the company, that was when the Internet was really taking off," Holland says. "This was my niche that I decided to start a business in."

Holland himself served as the model customer. A fan of layaway in college, "I used layaway because I had limited income, and I didn't have credit," Holland says. Other people have warmed to his idea. Currently, "there's a wide range of customers, but I'd assume the majority can't get credit cards or don't want to use credit cards for a big ticket item," Holland says. Entrepreneurs have also taken note: Holland says he knows of about two or three companies that currently offer a similar layaway service online.

Lay-away.com doesn't charge fees to shoppers, instead earning commission on the products it sells from suppliers. While some things have changed, layaway remains much as it always was: Site visitors who find an item they like can pick a budget and then submit periodic payments until they are done paying. If the consumer is unable to complete the payments, they can request a refund less a $35 processing charge. Unlike payments made by credit card, nothing is reported to the credit bureau, Holland says. "We don't have a bad customer list," he adds.....




19 September 2008

Has Layaway Gone Away?
Sept. 19, 2008
Zaneta Lowe, WTVM News

COLUMBUS, Ga (WTVM) - Kanisa Evans says she is a frequent K-Mart shopper, one of a handful of stores that still offers lay away.

"I had about three lay aways within this month alone because it's very helpful...because it helps you save money actually," says Evans.

Lay away is when customers have retailers set something aside, and they get it when they're finished paying for it.

Wal-Mart eliminated its plan about two years ago and so did electronics giant Circuit City.

K-Mart offers an 8 week plan for a fee of $5.00 dollars.

"It's a real easy simple plan, it's better than a credit card! You have to figure say a $5.00 lay away fee is a lot less than the interest rates are now days," says Brigitte Hodge of K-Mart.

Ironically, retail experts say plastic is to blame for lay away going away!

According to a National Retail Federation spokesperson, "Retailers have opted to cut out layaway programs largely because the demand has decreased. Consumers now rely on credit cards when it comes to large purchases, allowing immediate access to the merchandise they are purchasing."

So where can you find a lay away plan?

Besides K-Mart, Sears offers lay away on certain promotional items and jewelry.

Both T-J Maxx and Marshall's give customers that option. And so does the Columbus based Shoe Show.

"Our lay away is a 30 day lay away and its 20% down," says the Shoe Show's Lise Heath.

Consumers' best shot is actually online though with sites like lay-away.com.

But as money gets tighter, it's an option consumers say they wish they could find in more than just a few places.

"You're short of funds and you can't pay for everything at one time so you pay for it a little bit at a time, it helps me," says Wal-Mart shopper Sonja Milligan.


19 October 2009

Toys R Us rolled out a layaway program today aimed at helping shoppers budget their spending during the holidays. The program, which is available in Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores nationwide, allows shoppers to pick out gifts early and make a series of small payments over an extended period. “The program offers added convenience and flexibility, providing customers another option for budgeting their holiday spending and allowing them to make smaller payments over time,” said Jerry Storch, chief executive of Toys R Us. Toys R Us layaway categories include: • Bikes • Battery-powered ride-on vehicles • Dollhouses • Play kitchens • Outdoor play equipment and play sets, including metal gym sets, wood gym sets, trampolines, houses, teeter-totters and climbers • Pools and water slides • Preschool ride-ons, such as cozy coupes, horses, metal tricycles and wagons • Basketball systems • Karaoke machines • Keyboards and other musical instruments for toddlers to teens • Televisions • Indoor table games, including air hockey, foosball and table tennis Babies R Us layaway categories include: • Infant and toddler furniture • Car seats • Highchairs • Play yards • Strollers and travel systems • Bassinets Placing a product on layaway requires a deposit of 20% of the total purchase, including all applicable taxes, and a $10 service charge. Payments may be made at the store at any time in the form of cash, check, credit card, debit card or gift card. Merchandise will be made available within seven to 10 days of final payment, so items must be paid for in full by Dec. 6 to ensure that the gift is available for pickup before Christmas. -- Andrea Chang




22 October 2008

"Layaway" is back for the holidays
Sales phrase of the past makes a return in hard economic times
By Mike Walcher, WINK News

Story Created: Oct 22, 2008 at 4:04 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - It's a phrase that our parents and grandparents knew well -- Layaway!

Many retailers used to over the 'pay as you go' plan decades ago. But most abandoned it, when consumers got lots of credit cards and put their purchases on plastic.

Now, with consumers using up their credit or 'maxing' out their cards, Kmart is offering layways for the holidays, and promoting it heavily.

"We are getting a lot of business at the layaway counter, and it's good to help every family have a Christmas," said Jim Richardson, manager of the Kmart on US 41 in Fort Myers.

"People like the plan and we like helping them get the gifts they want for their children and their loved ones," Richardson said.

Under the plan, shoppers put some money down on an item, and then make payments every 2 weeks. They are supposed to pick up gifts for Christmas by December 12th. The store charges a $5-dollar fee for the layaway service. There is no interest charge to hold the items.

Right now, Kmart is cutting a niche for itself as the only major discount retailer to offer holiday layway.

If your store does not offer layaway, you can go to the website https://www.lay-away.com/, to get offers on deals.

The Kmart program allows people to buy most items on layaway, except food, prescription drugs, cell phones and computers.



15 September 2006

Wal-Mart Ends Layaway Service

By Ylan Q. Mui
Washington Post

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which built an empire serving low-income customers, said yesterday that it was phasing out layaway, the plan that allowed generations of shoppers to put a purchase on hold until they could afford it.

Though Wal-Mart is not the last retailer to offer the service, it is the largest. And its decision is another reminder that living within your means is becoming an outdated concept in today's buy-now-pay-later culture.

"Layaway at Wal-Mart was something that they did as a courtesy to the customers," said Daniel Butler, vice president of merchandising and retail operations at the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group. "The layaway process has really become very obsolete."

Wal-Mart said demand for the service has dropped off, as consumers increasingly rely on credit cards and gift cards to pay for purchases. The idea of waiting to complete a purchase is no longer attractive. Wal-Mart said shoppers will have until Nov. 19 to put items on layaway and must pick them up by Dec. 8.

"It's really a matter of people turning to different types of payment options, and people wanting to take it home today," said Linda Blakley, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.

Blakley said that none of the two dozen stores the retailer opened in August had layaway departments, and that business was not affected.

Several retail chains still offer layaway plans. Mid-price department store Boscov's Inc., a regional chain based in Reading, Pa., offers a 30-day plan for apparel and a 60-day plan for all other merchandise. Customers must put down 10 percent of the price, with a $5 minimum.

"We're pretty lenient with it," said Justin Horst, an assistant store manager. "If someone's continuing to make payments with it, even if they go beyond their 30 or 60 days, if it's an active account, it's pretty much okay with us."

Horst said that the program is especially attractive to older shoppers and that he gets questions about it daily.

Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Kmart, both subsidiaries of Sears Holdings Corp., also offer layaway programs. Kmart's eight-week plan comes with a $5 fee and requires shoppers to pay a 10 percent deposit with a $5 minimum. Sears's plan applies only to fine jewelry and big-ticket promotional items such as TVs, washers and dryers; it extends up to 90 days.

Circuit City Stores Inc. discontinued its layaway program two years ago due to lack of customer demand, a spokeswoman said. Best Buy Co. also does not have a layaway plan, nor does Target Corp.

"It is something that really for most retailers had gone away a long, long time ago," Butler said. "It's even surprising to me that the companies you name still have it."

Layaway started after the Great Depression as a way to help customers buy the products they needed -- and to help businesses move their merchandise, he said. But as credit became increasingly accessible and goods became more plentiful, layaway fell by the wayside.

Tod Marks, senior editor at Consumer Reports, said layaway was a boon to shoppers.

"Instead of instant gratification, [layaway plans] basically force you to save toward something," he said. "In our gotta-have-it-now society, we've moved away from that."

Instead, companies have moved toward credit card incentives to encourage shoppers to spend.

"Our complete mind-set about the purchase and acquisition of products has changed," Marks said.

Those inducements include offers to buy now and delay interest and payment until months later-- in other words, the opposite of layaway plans. Wal-Mart has a similar offer and in addition has instituted a $20 cash-back incentive for those who spend at least $100 on a new Wal-Mart or Discover card when they open the account at the store.

Butler said the end of layaway at Wal-Mart is unlikely to affect sales. Blakley said that she did not know how many customers used the program but that the number had been steadily shrinking.

"It has not been a major line of business for any retailer that even still does it," Butler said.

But layaway is not dead yet. Three years ago, Rob Holland started Lay-Away.com after realizing that he didn't have the money to buy a computer during college. Today he manages the site full-time from his home in Chicago, selling everything from appliances to electronics.

"I used to be the same customer that most of my customers are today: low income, horrible credit," he said. "We're a viable alternative to those customers."

And now, Holland added, his company might just pick up a few Wal-Mart shoppers.




23 November 2009

Layaway an easy way to snap up popular gifts
By Herb Weisbaum

Layaway is making a comeback, and for good reason.

It's a great way to stick to a budget and avoid running up big credit card bills. You don't pay interest charges with layaway.

Sue Perry, deputy editor of Shop Smart Magazine, says there's another benefit to layaway.

"You can get those hot items for the holidays that your kids want and put them on layaway before they're snapped up," she said. "You're assured you have those items and once you pay off your layaway plan you just pick it up at the store so you have it."

Sears brought back its layaway program last year, and expanded it this year.

"The only are that's excluded form layaway would be appliances and automotive," said Sears store manager Gary Lorentson. "(For) pretty much everything else, you can use layaway. And it's been extremely popular.

These days, you can do layaway online at well-known stores like Sears and Kmart, or go to a site that specializes in extended payment plays: Lay-Away.com.....


9 September 2011

By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO
NEW YORK — Wal-Mart is bringing back something its customers have been asking for since the Great Recession: layaway.

The world's largest retailer, which ditched the pay-as-you-go plans in 2006, is rolling out a holiday layaway plan from Oct. 17 through Dec. 16. Wal-Mart is following rivals that brought back the service during the thick of the recession.

Wal-Mart's layaway option comes at a time when its mostly low-income shoppers are being squeezed by high unemployment and rising costs. Wal-Mart is trying to reverse nine straight quarters of revenue declines at its namesake U.S. stores open at least a year — a key measure of a retailer's healthy.

"We're always looking for ways to ease budget strain for our customers, and we know this holiday season brings with it additional financial pressure," said Duncan MacNaughton, chief merchandising officer at Wal-Mart's U.S. division. "This was a key component that our customers asked us for."
Layaway — which allows shoppers to pay over time, interest-free, and pick up their merchandise when it's paid in full — became popular during the Great Depression. The practice had become largely a thing of the past as the economy flourished and credit cards became common.

But when credit dried up and the job market soured during the recession that began in late 2007, Sears and other merchants added back or expanded the service.

Citing increased costs and lower customer demand, Wal-Mart phased out its layaway in September 2006 — roughly a year before the recession began — with the exception of fine jewelry. But the discounter faced criticism because it built its reputation on helping its low-income shoppers.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Ark., said it will be able to limit costs now by limiting the layaway program to toys and electronics with a price tag of $15 or more. Also, the total layaway purchase has to add up to at least $50.

Wal-Mart will also charge a $5 non-refundable service fee and $10 cancellation charge for orders not picked up by Dec. 16 or cancelled by the customer.

The program is only available at stores. It also requires a 10 percent down payment. The company said if the program is successful, it may extend it throughout the year.

The layaway plan is part of Wal-Mart's efforts to turn around its struggling U.S. business. In addition to the layaway program, Wal-Mart said that starting Monday, it will cut prices on dozens of holiday toys to $15. The company also said it will start offering small samples of holiday merchandise, including outdoor décor, later this month — two weeks earlier than a year ago.

Wal-Mart has been going back to "everyday low prices" instead of pricing gimmicks like temporarily slashing prices on select items. It's also finishing up restocking thousands of items it cut during an overzealous bid to clean up its stores.


13 September 2011

Layaway Is Back
By Cameron Huddleston, Contributing Editor, Kiplinger.com
September 13, 2011


I know it seems a little early to start thinking about holiday shopping, but several retailers are offering layaway programs to help customers buy items they want without racking up debt. In fact, Walmart announced September 8 that it will start offering layaway October 17 for toys and electronics "to help families deliver a big Christmas." It's been five years since Walmart last offered layaway, says consumer expert Andrea Woroch.

This installment-payment method was popular before the widespread use of credit cards but made a resurgence in 2008 during the recession. However, marketing experts didn't expect layaway to remain a long-term trend because it's an expensive program for stores to administer. It allows customers to select items they want and pay for them over a period of time. Once final payments are made, items may be picked up.

The difference between using a layaway program and a credit card (which can let you stretch payments out over a period of time) is that interest doesn't accrue on layaway items. However, you must pay a nominal service fee and a deposit at the time of purchase. Plus, stores usually charge a cancellation fee if you decide you don't want the item.

Here's a roundup of retailers offering layaway this year:

Walmart
Layaway period: October 17 to December 16
Down payment: 10%
Pay schedule: Pay in full by December 16
Fees: $5 service fee; $10 cancellation fee
Note: Layaway is available in stores only for toys and electronics. Each item must be $15 or more, and the total purchase must be $50 or more. Layaway is not offered Black Friday, November 25.

Kmart
Layaway period: 8 weeks; 12 weeks for purchases of $300 or more
Down payment: $20 or 10% (whichever is greater)
Pay schedule: Biweekly
Fees: $5 service fee ($10 for the 12-week plan); $15 cancellation fee
Note: You can make payments online or in stores. There is a 7-day grace period for payment. Layaway is not available in all stores. Online purchases available for layaway are identified as such.

Sears
Layaway period: 8 weeks; 12 weeks for in-store purchases of $400 or more
Down payment: $20 or 20% (whichever is greater)
Pay schedule: Biweekly
Fees: $5 service fee ($10 for the 12-week plan); $15 cancellation fee
Note: You can make payments online or in stores. There is a 7-day grace period for payment. Layaway is not available in all stores. Online purchases available for layaway are identified as such.

Toys "R" Us/Babies "R" Us
Layaway period: 3 months
Down payment: 20%
Pay schedule: 50% paid within 45 days; paid in full in 3 months
Fees: $10 service fee; $5 cancellation fee
Note: Layaway is offered in stores only and for select items. See a list of items available for layaway.

T.J. Maxx/Marshalls
Layaway period: 30 days
Down payment: 10%
Pay schedule: Layaways must be picked up and paid in full within 30 days
Fees: $5 cancellation fee
Note: Jewelry and clearance items are not eligible for layaway. Other restrictions may apply -- customers should call their local store for details.

Burlington Coat Factory
Layaway period: 60 days (90 days for Baby Depot items)
Down payment: 20%
Pay schedule: 20% additional payment due in 14 days; paid in full in 60 (or 90) days
Fees: $5 service fee; $10 cancellation fee

Web sites such as eLayaway.com and Lay-Away.com also offer layaway programs for a variety of merchants. Another way to avoid racking up credit card debt to make holiday purchases is to make a list of items you want to buy, set a budget and start saving soon. Look for my Kip Tip in the coming weeks on how to save $1,000 by the holidays.



4 October 2011

This Holiday Season Could Be a Heyday for Layaway, According to ConsumerSearch.com Survey


NEW YORK--With the holiday season approaching and consumers’ budgets tighter than ever, many major retailers are bringing back layaway as a payment option for customers. Will many shoppers consider layaway as a payment choice for the holidays? According to a survey released today by ConsumerSearch.com (part of the About Group), fewer than half of respondents have used layaway previously, but an overwhelming majority (71 percent) are open to using layaway services in the next six months. Forty-two percent indicated they expect to use layaway specifically for holiday gifts. Additionally, a consumer’s annual income does not appear to be a strong factor in willingness to use layaway.

ConsumerSearch.com, a Web site that does product research for consumers, to help them make informed shopping decisions, conducted the survey of members of Research Now’s Consumer Panel in September 2011. Polling 1,011 respondents, the survey examines consumers’ previous experiences with layaway and the likelihood of whether or where they will use the program in the future.

Highlights include:

Nearly half (46 percent) of respondents have purchased an item using layaway in their lifetime, either in a store or online. Almost all (96 percent) of these respondents were completely or mostly satisfied with the experience.

Income does not appear to be a factor in past usage of layaway. Consumers with household incomes under and above $40,000 reported previous use of layaway at an equal rate and are almost equally open to using layaway services in the next six months.

When given multiple choices, the most popular items respondents said they would purchase on layaway included big-ticket items, with furniture (47 percent) and large appliances (46 percent) leading the way. The third most popular layaway item was holiday gifts (42 percent).

The top stores used for past layaway purchases are Kmart (34 percent) and Wal-Mart (18 percent). For future layaway purchases, respondents indicated they would be most likely to use the payment option at Wal-Mart (15 percent) and local stores (14 percent).

Top reasons for using layaway include: liking that stores are providing another payment option (38 percent), agreeing that it’s a way to budget for an item that would otherwise be too expensive (35 percent) and feeling that it’s a good way to help stick to a budget (26 percent).

More than one-third (35 percent) of respondents agree that “it’s great that stores are bringing back layaway.”

“Many shoppers remember layaway positively from the past and are pleased that companies are bringing it back for the holidays. Perhaps more importantly, consumers recognize layaway as a potentially effective money management tool,” said Christine Frietchen, editor-in-chief of ConsumerSearch.com. “As our survey results show, layaway will likely make a big difference to a number of shoppers this holiday season, especially as people face smaller budgets and look for ways to spend their money as wisely and effectively as possible.”




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