Put your getaway on layaway?
On its new travel website, Sears offers vacation packages, hotel stays and car rentals that you can pay for in installments.
This post comes from Meg Handley at partner site U.S. News & World Report.
Sears customers can now plan and book hotel stays, cruises, flights and car rentals through the company's new travel website, and they have the option to pay off the tab for the trip little by little. The Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based retailer is also offering vacation packages for around $400, also available for layaway.
Layaway programs have gained popularity in recent years as traditional consumer credit have dried up in the wake of the Great Recession. Especially around the holidays, popular stores such as T.J. Maxx and Toys R Us have revived their layaway programs, giving an option to consumers whose budgets might be a little pinched.
But while layaway might be a convenient way for some shoppers to stay on budget during the holidays, experts caution against using the program to pay for a vacation. (Post continues below video.)
"If you have to finance your vacation in any way, including layaway, you probably can't afford to go," says Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com.
Sears' latest foray into the online retail space might refresh its image and diversify its business base, but not everyone is confident the new endeavor will succeed, especially given that the company is going head-to-head with industry heavyweights such as Expedia, Orbitz and AAA.
"Sears is known for appliances and durable goods that are in your home, and travel is anything but in your home," Carroll Rheem, a senior research director at travel research company PhoCusWright, told the Chicago Tribune. "There's a lot of trust (in Sears), but at the same time, they are not travel experts."
While Sears might be leaning heavily on brand-name recognition, it's not leaving the fledgling operation completely to chance.
According to a release, the new vacation service is powered by International Cruise & Excursions, which will provide "travel fulfillment and customer service" out of its Scottsdale, Ariz. headquarters.
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