Layaway, a 1980s way to buy goods and services, allowing customers to make a purchase, paying for it in weekly or monthly installments seemed to be a genius idea, but with easy credit and high credit card limits, layaway became archaic and inane. But with soaring unemployment rates and crashing credit scores, high credit card limits may be a thing of the past, and layaway is back in full force.
Now customers can once again choose the items they want and the retailers will agree to remove them from the floor, but instead of paying with plastic, the customer will now have to wait until they have paid for the item in full to take possession of it.
Layaway is still a win/win for the customer and the retailer: customers can now afford higher priced items without paying high fees charged by credit card companies and retailers can sell more goods. If the customer fails to complete the layaway plan the customer will claim a refund on the money paid, less fees, and the retailer will simply replace the goods on the stores shelves, no harm no foul.
In fact, retailer giant, Wal-Mart, is backing the new layaway trend. Wal-Mart completely did away with their layaway services in 2006 but brought them back last year. They have also announced this week that they will be cutting upfront fees to use their layaway plan. Now customers who use the plan to make Christmas purchases wil pay a meager $5 instead of $15, which will be reduced when the purchase is completed.
Wal-Mart’s price cutting move is expected to attract additional holiday shoppers, despite the high unemployment rates and sluggish retail sales. Wal-Mart has joined other retail outlets with their latest changes, and according to Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer for Wal-Mart’s U.S. unit, this latest move will make Wal-Mart even more attractive to customers and more competitive in the marketplace.
I think layaway is a great idea. It allows you to dream big while maintaining your budget and learning delayed gratification. There’s no longer any guilt about buying that high priced item when paying for it is incorporated into your budget. And the truth that no one talks about is how fun it is to wait for something.
Do you remember your first bike? How long did you wait to get it? Most of us who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s had to wait until Christmas or our birthday to get new toys. If your parents were like mine they either did not have a credit card or skeptically used it only for renting cars. There was something immoral about buying something you couldn’t afford with a shiny piece of plastic.
Layaway took that guilt away. You may not be able to afford to buy it all at once, but you were buying it piece by piece and your prize was waiting for you on the store shelf until the day you went to pick it up. I bought my first couch this way, even though I had a great job, I did not have any credit history and no credit card. But I think the whole process made me appreciate it more. I even went by the store each week, paying another installment and walking by it, rubbing my hand down the coarse brocade, picturing how it would fit perfectly into my small apartment. And although we all hate to admit it, working and earning something has always made us place higher value on what we possess.
So I applaud Wal-Mart for bringing back the tried and true. It allows those of us, who may not have the means to purchase high-priced items with a credit card, to dream big and to experience the thrill of getting something we want after months of waiting and dreaming. In fact, even those of us who do have the means can learn a lesson about waiting and delaying gratification. Maybe that’s why my kid’s bikes are on the front lawn, instead of the garage. They were never forced to wait so they never learned to dream.
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