COLUMBIA - As the holiday season approaches, some of the nation's largest retailers have started to reel-in customers by offering new layaway requirements.
Layaway allows customers to hold an item for a period of time while they make incremental payments to cover the total purchase. Layaway programs have been around for quite some time. Within the last couple years, their popularity has grown.
Big items, such as TVs and jewelry, are popular layaway items. Cartloads of toys make up a big portion, as well. Conley Road Walmart Manager Tim Spinks said this year's most popular items are iPads, Lego sets, and the new Furby doll. But depending on the layaway process depends on the retail store.
Walmart reduced its $15 fee to $5. If customers do not cancel their order, they will get their $5 back via gift card. Customers must purchase $50 worth of merchandise, with each product being no less than $15. There is a down payment of $10 or 10 percent, whichever is greater. In an effort to comply with customers' requests, Walmart extended its layaway an extra month, making the last payment due December 14.
"Layaway gives our customers an opportunity to pay over time and to stretch their dollar to the maximum, because during the holiday a lot is going on that is costly to our customers," said Spinks.
Another huge retail store is making some changes, too. Toys R Us has no service fee until October 31. After that day, there will be a $5 non-refundable service fee. There is no minimum purchase price. Customers do need to make a 20 percent down payment, pay off 50 percent within 45 days, and pay the full amount by December 8. There is a cancellation fee of $10.
Like Toys R Us, Kmart has no service fee and no minimum cost. Customers put a down payment of $15 or 10 percent, whichever is greater. Payments are bi-weekly for an eight-week period. Kmart Manager Greg Jones said, "As the two weeks get closer to the next payment, Kmart does do automated telephone calls as a reminder to customers to make a payment." The last payments are accepted by November 17.