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Layaway Shopping Coming Back As Holidays Approach

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We’re getting closer and closer to the holiday shopping season, and that has a lot of people wondering how they’re going to budget for gifts.

It has some stores revisiting an old option. Layaway is back at Wal-Mart and it’s gaining popularity at other retailers like K-Mart.

Many holiday shoppers are already taking advantage of the option.

“It’s actually really big right now, especially with the economy,” said Jessica Stokes, assistant manager at K-Mart in New hope.

Toys, electronics, shoes and clothes can all be put on layaway. But the real appeal is how it works. At K-Mart, customers shop and pay a $5 fee to put their holiday gifts on layaway. They also make a down payment of 10 percent or $15 of the total cost.

They then make a payment every couple weeks and pick up their gifts closer to Christmas. And it’s all done without a single swipe of a credit card.

“I’ve heard customers say they have an interest rate of 29 percent. Well you are only paying $5 for 2 months so it’s a great deal actually,” said Stokes.

Wal-Mart went away from layaway for a few years, but brought it back this year.

“Our customers were calling before we got it, wondering when it would start. And it’s been very successful so far,” said Jose Martinez, manager at the Maple Grove Wal-Mart.

Their program is similar to K-Mart’s. One thing both stores are stressing is space. With layaway, you don’t have to bring your gifts home until you’re ready.

“Hiding your presents is good. You can hide them at Wal-Mart,” said Martinez.

Wal-Mart and other retailers got rid of layaway a few years ago because they were having problems with people reserving items and then not picking them up or paying for them.

You have to put at least $50 worth of items on layaway now at Wal-Mart. There is a $10 cancellation fee at both Wal-Mart and Kmart.

Sears, TJ Maxx, and Marshall’s also offer layaway, but keep in mind- not all the programs are the same.

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