In a truly retro moment in the market, something I thought was gone with the Blue laws is back. Lay-away is making a comeback. Just in time for the holidays and the credit clamp-down, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Kmart and Burlington Coat Factory have announced the rebirth of lay-away. Kmart’s even running national radio and TV ads touting it.
Lay-away is a great solution for cash-strapped, credit-starved consumers who can’t imagine showing up empty-handed for holiday celebrations. For those unfamiliar with lay-away, here’s how it works: Consumers pay a down payment and a percentage of the total purchase price of the merchandise. The store hangs on to the merchandise for several weeks/months until you pay off the balance. If you fail to pay the balance within the required period, the merchandise goes back into stock and you get a partial refund.
While the whole schema seems a little small-town hinky to me, but it certainly makes sense in this market. You still get to shop, but without the debt.
If you’re not in the market for a lay-away purchase, you can still put this news to use. Business owners can implement lay-aways on all or some of their products. The beauty of this is that, if you’re selling stock items (as opposed to special order or limited edition), you don’t actually have to purchase the inventory until you’ve received the full payment, or at least enough payments to cover your cost of purchasing the product.