'Tis the season to layaway

We haven't heard the 'L' word for years, but it's back in force.

By Kim Peterson Oct 19, 2009 1:15PM
Christmas cash © Tetra Images/CorbisLayaway, gone from most stores for years, is back this season as stores get creative in wringing every dollar they can from shoppers.

Toys R Us announced Monday it will launch a layaway program for its more expensive items. Chief executive Gerald Storch said customers were requesting the service.


Toy sales don't suffer as much as other retail categories in recessions. That's because, when your daughter looks at you with big eyes and says how much she would love the Fur Real Friends Lulu My Cuddlin Kiddy Cat, well, it's hard to say no.


And now, Toys R Us and other stores are making it that much harder to say no.  Kmart and Sears are even offering online layaway programs. You must make a down payment of 15% or $10, whichever is greater, and pay a $5 fee, according to The Los Angeles Times.


The new interest in layaway -- from both shoppers and stores -- comes as forecasters expect retail sales to drop this holiday for the second year in a row. The expected 1% decline won't be as bad as last year's 3.4% fall, according to Bloomberg, but retailers are preparing for some bleak numbers.


Stores are also rolling out sales and promotions -- and we'll hear a lot about layaway in the next few weeks.
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