The comeback of layaway - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

The comeback of layaway

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By Cade Fowler - bio | email

November 18, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Melissa Jacobs is getting a head start on her Christmas shopping.

Pushing a shopping cart filled with toys, she says, "I got two Razor scooters, an art studio, Leap Frog tag, Monopoly, and Deal Or No Deal."

The mother of three wants plenty of gifts for her kids under the tree come December 25th. But like many shoppers this year, paying for them in full is not an option. That's why she's taking advantage of Kmart's layaway program.

"It makes it a lot easier. You don't have to worry about coming off with all the money at one time. My kids can normally get what they want for Christmas because it's easier to pay on layaway," she says.

Store management with the Albany Kmart says layaway took off in early fall and hasn't slowed down. Literally thousands of items are stocked high and wide for customers ranging from toys to electronics. The fee is just $5 with a minimum down payment.

But in what is expected to be one of the worst holiday shopping seasons in years, layaway comes as good news to cash strapped consumers. The slowing economy has revived the program which for the past twenty years, fell way of credit cards.

The resurgence caught the attention of Kmart parent company Sears Holdings Corporation which just last week announced it was bringing back layaway for the first time in almost 2 decades to nearly all Sears department stores.

"With the current economic conditions and the credit crunch, the customers can have a little leeway to pay out some things over a 30-day period roughly," Kevlin Tompkins, Sears operations manager.

It's a program with deep roots - renewed by the slowing economy - making things a little easier for customers this Christmas.

When asked what she would do without layaway, Jacobs says, "I couldn't imagine. My kids probably wouldn't be getting half the things they're getting if it wasn't for layaway."

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