November 28, 2008

Layaway making a retail comeback

U.S. retailer Sears is bringing back the purchasing system called layaway this year, marking a small comeback for a plan popular during the Great Depression.

The strategy allows shoppers to put some money down on an item which is held by the store until the bill is paid in full. Layaway is now available at Sears after a 20-year layoff, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.

People are looking for frugality and personal finance discipline. It's really great how layaway can help them, empower them, Tom Aiello, vice president of Sears Holdings.

Sears' layaway program allows shoppers to place items on hold through Dec. 23 this year but is not available for appliances or home electronics, the newspaper said.

On line retailers are also using layaway programs, most noticeably eLayaway, where membership grew tenfold this year to 75,000.

The Florida company offers the payment plan for a fee on behalf of 1,200 stores, including the Apple Store, Brookstone, Gap and Adidas.

The nation's biggest retailer Wal-Mart Corp. dropped its layaway program in 2006.