In this economy, some shoppers are fretting over being able to afford that special toy, bauble or other item that they know will bring a smile to their children, spouse, friend or family member.
Consider layaway as a way to spread payments out over time, and be able to check things off those holiday lists.
Popular during the Great Depression in the 1930s, layaway counters became fewerer and fewer during the 1990s, but retailers like Sears and Walmart brought back layaway in recent years.
Many companies are once again offering the service, which allows customers to make installment payments on an item, sometimes with a small fee added to the item’s price for the company’s administrative costs. Yahoo Finance analyzed the best layaway plans recommending Kmart, Walmart and Toys R Us/Babies R Us while saying that the Best Buy and Sears plans could cost you or cause inconveniences.
In our area, try one of these retailers’ 2012 holiday layaway programs:
Kmart has continually offered layaway for more than 40 years. It is currently running a promotion that waives the normal service fees on layaway items.
Kmart is located on North Beneva Road and Fruitville Road.
Walmart re-started its program in 2011, and offers an online version. Its layaway requires $10 or 10 percent down (whichever is greater) and a $5 “open” fee, which is refunded as a Walmart gift card upon completion of the program.
Walmart has locations on Cattleman Road and Lockwood Ridge Road. In-store layaway is not available at the Walmart Neighborhood Market, but you can order items through the Site-To-Store program where you pay for items online or order online and have it shipped to the store. You can even order online, have it sent to the store and pay cash for the item at Customer Service.
Sears has a no-fee layaway program for the 2012 holiday season (provided that the item is paid for in full) and has some price level requirements. Its website has a handy payment calculator and on-line payment option.
Sears is located at the Sarasota Square Mall .
Toys R Us/Babies R Us
Toys R Us’ program is offered in-store only, and carries a small service fee. To find out which products are eligible for layaway, visit its website.
Babies R US is located at 3860 Central Sarasota Parkway while Toys R Us has a Bradenton location at 512 Cortez Road West.
Best Buy has a layaway program at some stores, but the total of the items must be $250 or more. Best Buy is located at Glengarry Shoppes and at the University Town Center.
Target remains one of the larger retailers without a layaway program.
If you know of any local stores with layaway programs, tell us about them!