What was once a popular tool for budget-conscious shoppers, layaway programs are quickly regaining steam with consumers, new research shows.
The study by CouponCabin.com reveals that more than one-third of adult shoppers in the U.S. are at least somewhat likely to purchase items on layaway this holiday season.
Especially popular are online layaway programs, which make trips to the store for payments obsolete. Nearly 30 percent of consumers said they might consider purchasing an item using online layaway.
Shoppers see a number of positives in using layaway programs, including:
- Helps buy larger items for the holidays they couldn't afford to buy all at once
- Helps budget money
- Helps avoid using credit cards
- Helps plan ahead
- Lets a person reserve a popular item
- Good credit isn't needed to use the program
"Layaway can be a smart option for holiday shoppers on a budget, as it forces shoppers to be disciplined about saving and reduces impulse purchases," said Jackie Warrick, president and chief savings officer at CouponCabin.com. "At the same time, those who are considering layaway this holiday season should be aware of the possible fees that may exist and whether or not a layaway program fits their needs before they commit."
Among the drawbacks consumers see in using layaway is that there is a charge for canceling an order, service fees are too high, it can't be used on all merchandise and deadlines for completing payments aren't long enough.
Warrick offers several tips for shoppers thinking of using layaway as part of their holiday shopping strategy this year:
- Read the fine print: Before you sign on the dotted line, take a moment to understand all the terms and conditions to your layaway agreement so you aren't penalized by unknown fees.
- Seek out free programs: Some stores are offering free layaway programs this season, so be sure to pay attention to these offers.
- Plan ahead: Certain layaway programs may make you wait months before you can pay off your purchases. Factor in that extra time into your holiday shopping schedule to make sure you get the gifts you need on time.
The research was based on surveys of more than 2,300 shoppers over age 18.