The Return of Layaway

Layaway may sound like an old-school concept, especially in today’s “buy now, pay later” society. But the idea of setting aside products to pay off gradually is making a comeback, and is being praised as a way to regain control of family finances and make sure holiday giving doesn’t fall victim to the economic downturn.

Most people will continue to use credit cards, or, if they have it, pay cash for holiday purchases and other things they need or want. However, for people who can’t afford to pay all at once or anyone who simply wants to avoid using credit cards or keep purchases away from curious present-seekers during the Christmas season, layaway may be the answer.

Stores such as Kmart, Burlington Coat Factory and TJ Maxx cater to this need by offering layaway, even as retail giant Walmart did away with the service years ago (only to bring it back, for select toys and electronics over $15, for the 2011 holiday season).

As services such as Afterpay (in which payments are made toward a purchase) blur the lines between layaway and credit, is more committed than ever to informing consumers about these plans’ benefits and pitfalls.

By paying incrementally, shoppers may be able to afford a higher-quality product, or obtain gifts, furniture, appliances, jewelry and more in a fiscally responsible way. It’s also a relief to finally have the item in-hand without credit card debt hanging over your head.

While some (including spokespeople for the National Retail Federation) referred to layaway as “obsolete,” just a couple of years ago, anecdotal and statistical evidence indicates growing interest in layaway as consumers and retailers struggle to adjust to a changing economy. In an Oct. 20, 2009 article in the Chicago Tribune, NRF vice president Ellen Davis said, “I’m surprised we haven’t seen more companies announce layaway at this point” and went on to praise the concept of opting for cash over credit during the holidays.

In 2010, layaway grew exponentially in popularity, and stores such as Best Buy expanded their existing layaway programs. GameStop was one of the major chain retailers to add layaway (for game consoles only) in 2010, and the plans also became a more prominent option at locally owned stores and online retailers.

Layaway is such a hot topic lately that, in winter 2008, even the 99 Cents Only store chain has announced its own tongue-in-cheek layaway plan. By mid-2019, more than a decade after the launch of, the concept had been fully re-established and was the subject of major stories in The New York Times and other publications.

The layaway concept dates to the Great Depression, when merchants gave people a chance to obtain items they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford. It was a win-win, as in most cases the stores wouldn’t have been able to sell to that customer without it. (As recently as the 1980s, some experts observe, only upper-income people had credit cards.) The U.S. Commerce Department’s report that retail sales were down by more than 1 percent in 2008, so layaway may be a way for retailers to reach a market that otherwise would not have shopped at their stores.

Sears Holding Company, which also owns Kmart, attributes its layaway program for contributing “significantly” to its holiday sales in 2008. In 2009, Sears and Kmart ramped up the program by offering online layaway and a “Christmas Club.” In 2010, both stores began offering even more options, such as longer payment terms on some items.

41 Responses to “The Return of Layaway”

  1. ann plam says:

    i hope the recession has taught the retail industry that cards are noit an option, paying for items with real cash instead of plastic is the best option.. let’s bring the “Lay-A-Way Plan back ti the USA.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Kmart should shut down

  3. Pam Beeler says:

    Please bring the Lay-Away program back….. There are many families that can’t afford to pay the total amount at once and can’t afford to have a credit card. There would be morel back-to-school shopping and Christmas shopping done at the Wal-Mart facilities.

    Thank you

    K Mart has this program

  4. Anonymous says:

    bring wal-mart layaway back

  5. Anonymous says:

    bring wal-mart layaway back please

  6. Adara says:

    Go Kmart!!!

  7. Terri says:

    Your wish is my command. I did some searching for a layaway program for professional cameras and found this great website. You will love it.

  8. stus hemi says:

    For as big as they are they should have a lay away

  9. Anonymous says:

    please bring layaway back

  10. Heather says:

    Walmart needs to bring layaway back at least at christmas.

  11. quin says:

    bring wal mart layaway back its shame shoulf never stopped in the begining

  12. Anonymous69 says:

    Because there are no layaways available anymore, I won’t be able to afford christmas this year, let alone birthdays. The store that is local and does have, I won’t trust anymore. I don’t know of any other store I could put things on layaway and pay monthly. All the other stores had me paying every 2 wks. Not easy when you only get paid 1x a month. Cant the stores make this an option also. 2x a month or 1x a month. I’m sure I’m not the only person that has been in this situation, and I won’t be the last.

  13. ben says:

    so what kmart has lay away plan-been there three yaers in a row-they never have items i want in stock-lapp top computers and desk top computers-kmart web site advertises them but store in midland michigan never has them in stock

  14. ben says:

    yes bring wall mart lay away back

  15. cinday says:

    can i have laaway please

  16. deb says:

    it saids that the rason walmart stop the layaway is because most of people used thier credit cards well guess what alot of us cant even get a credit cards so what now they shouldnt get nothing unless they go down to kmart and use thier layaway well dont always have money right up front

  17. Sue says:

    That’s why I basically do not shop at Walmart any longer. I loved layaway, I was a single mom & the only way my girls got school, winter and Christmas needs was because I could put it on layaway. Seems they could handle both layaway & ship to store.

  18. CHER says:

    Kmart sucks. The have crap for stuff and they are over priced. I do not put anything on layaway there. Ever since walmart stopped their layaway I save my money for Black Friday.

    Bring Walmart layaway back.
    Walmart was really stupid for not having it anymore.

  19. kelly says:

    We need walmart layaway back times are hard enough without the stress of not being able to give our children a great christmas or having new school clothes I as a parent of 4 can not afford a credit card or any extra bills I am in debt already and for me layaway was the one thing I could always count on but since there has been none we have struggled and our kids have paid for it we do the very best we can our kids will always come first but the layaway at walmart made it such a better time of year when we could get our kids what they asked for because we had time to pay it off please bring back layaway it was such a blessing to some of us. Thank You

  20. Denny says:

    We live in a low income community and need Wal-mart to bring back it’s lay a way plan. They ran our only other store like that (Kmart) out of town. Now we need help. It’s even worse since they remodeled and took 3/4 of the items people look for away. We were so excited when they first came to town. One stop shopping ya know. Now we have to go out of town , just for things like needles and thread. Our selection is really bad. Does anyone higher up even care????? Help us with a lay a way please!

  21. Reese Feliz says:

    Layaways have saved the day for my family through the years. Even back in the 80’s when most had credit cards I always gravitated to layaways….after the holidays I had no bills and nice gifts, and everyone else had hefty credit card bills.

  22. lynn says:

    My friend said Another reason they stopped l-a-w is because if you had something that went on sale they had to give it to you at that price .Just lock the price in.DUH BRING BACK WALMART L-A-W

  23. Angie says:

    I was treated so badly in Kmart in St. Johns, Michigan recently that I won’t be going back for a while. My plan was to use their layaway this year as I have 5 children. After the way I was treated, well, guess I have to figure something else out because I’m not going back. They lost out on my business.

  24. kimberly says:

    i want walmart layaway BACK

  25. lindsay says:

    From what i have heard they have layaway at marshalls in midland michigan.

  26. cathy says:

    Walmart please have Lay a Way!

  27. Bertha mack says:

    I have been trying to pay my layway but unable to do so for two days

  28. gee gee says:

    Please bring the walmart layaway back. It was a real benefit to us.

  29. RC says:

    WalMart forgot that it financed its businee off the back of the little man!

  30. MrBill says:

    All you Wal marters should know by now!!!! Wal-Mart doesn’t care, they don’t even care about there employees or anything else except cash, and if you can save a buck shopping there, THAT’S WHAT THEY WANT

  31. Ann says:

    When Walmart had their layaway program, my family always had a great back to school and Christmas. I am a grandparent of 14 and always counted on Walmart to buy all my needs in one store. But now, layaway is gone and has been for several years. PLEASE,BRING BACK YOUR LAYAWAY WALMART. The general public need this option more now than ever!

  32. Elizabeth says:

    There are alot of us older people with very low income who very badly need this layaway for our kids and grandkids Christmas and our own needs please bring it back. THANK YOU

  33. kevin says:

    I myself am disabled and truly am asking please!!for my kids so i may alow me to get them all a lil somethiing

  34. karen says:

    the layway that wal-mart had helped my husband and i with christmas, we are on a fixed income and could not afford to pay cash and we don’t have credit cards, they can get you in trouble fast. so i say to wal-mart it ‘s about time you got back on the band wagon

  35. bea says:

    bring layaway back and lets keep it it helps a lot of people out like me.

  36. crystal says:

    Layways needs to be back!!!! alot of people need this, i have use kmart layway for 4years now and i would love to deal with walmart

  37. disappointed says:

    Walmart is a greedy corporation; they only care about profit. What we say means nothing to them. They dont care or choose to hear what we have to say. We have done what they have wanted by making them a profitable and successful corporation. They know that the middle class and the poor will continue to shop with them because we can’t afford to shop any where else. The people have made them who they are and they will never bring back layaway. They currently feel that we need them. Layaway needs to return because in the end the people will get tired of not being heard and there needs not being met.

  38. jenni says:

    can i exchange my things for different things ?

  39. miss daisy says:

    WALMART bring back lay-away

  40. Scott says:

    Where can I purchase a new set of tires for my truck on layaway?

  41. Mary Hazzard says:

    With the economy so bad, why don’t more stores offer layaway,instead of doing away with it altogether? It makes it very hard, trying to now use credit cards, for those of us who have them. How do they expect most of us to shop for school clothes, school supplies, birthdays, summer clothes, etc. It makesit very hard on us parents especially. Concerned.

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