Financial Fallout Results In Return of Layaway

11/16/2008 Fresno, CA, USA The department store chain began offering "Layaways" Friday, and the ability to shop now and pick it up later is proving to be popular among customers. "We've had people putting stuff away from day one, from the beginning of day one. It's been good," said Rande Johnson, the manager of Sears at Manchester Center in Fresno.

Johnson said most layaway customers are putting aside clothing and small kitchen appliances but tools and lawn and garden items are also layaway eligible. The company is counting on the payment plan from the past to boost holiday sales.

"Our sister stores, our K-mart stores, they've been doing layaway a long time. This is actually something huge in their stores; it's a good portion of their sales. I think it's going to be a lot bigger than people anticipated for this year. I really do," said Johnson.

Sears' layaway plan, like many others, allows for customers to put aside items, pay a percentage up front, and then make payments for a specified amount of time.

Martha Lucey, with ByDesign Financial Solutions, a credit counseling service in Fresno, says layaway plans can be a good alternative to credit cards as long as customers use them wisely. "Layaway is not a good idea if you haven't really looked at your budget to see whether you can afford the item to begin with. To be putting a lot of things on layaway because you can't afford them today, may mean you can't really afford them tomorrow either," said Lucey.

Lucey recommends families make a holiday spending budget now to avoid overspending. She also advises consumers to pay with cash whenever possible.


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