Layaway message resurrected for holiday shoppers
CHICAGO – A payment method that became decidedly passe in the 1980s is being promoted again this holiday season as a way for budget-conscious shoppers to buy gifts without breaking the bank.
Layaway — the practice that allows people to pay for everything from tools to televisions bit by bit before taking their items home — is back in advertisements for the first time in years for discount chain Kmart.
In a national campaign launched last week, the ads proclaim "beat the rush and pay the easy way with Kmart layaway." They mark the first time many shoppers have even heard the phrase, even though the chain has offered the option for decades.
"In the backdrop of this economy, it all of a sudden has a great deal of relevance," said Tom Aiello, a spokesman for the Hoffman Estates-based subsidiary of Sears Holdings Corp.
Discounter Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp. — one of the few remaining national chains offering the option — saw its percentage of layaway sales grow from 4.6 percent in August to 5.3 percent last month.
But even as consumers worried about personal finances and diminishing credit limits may show a renewed interest in layaway, experts say the practice — which accounts for a fraction of overall sales and has been a dwindling segment — likely won't make a full-fledged return to stores any time soon.
"I don't think it's a trend that will continue to grow," said Kathy Grannis, a spokeswoman for the National