Cash-Strapped Shoppers Remember Layaway

No-interest credit appeals to consumers
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2008 1:59 PM CST
Shoppers stand in the checkout line at Steve & Barry's clothing store on Tuesday, June 3, 2008, in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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(Newser) – With consumers strapped and credit short, retailers are reviving an older kind of financing: layaway. Although the arrangement was considered obsolete when Wal-Mart closed its layaway department in 2006, retailers such as TJ Maxx, Goody’s, Marshalls and the Burlington Coat Factory have moved to offer the service, especially as the holiday season approaches. MSNBC takes a look.

"A lot of people don’t have a lot of money right now,” or have restricted credit, explains on Kmart manager, “but they want to have a good Christmas.” Consumers wary of credit card debt like the fact that putting merchandise on layaway usually involves just a flat service fee, not interest charges, on top of the cost of the item. “Companies with layaway programs are essentially offering their customers free credit,” says one economist.