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Stores bringing back layaway early

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's only September but some major retailers want you to start thinking about your holiday shopping now, and they are trying to lure you in with free or discounted layaway programs.

Shoppers say this is the year they vow to shop early for the holidays and layaway.

"I think it will be great to start early," shopper Gwen Mabrey said.

"Layaway, it's convenient because you chop everything up and you can breathe," shopper Margo Campbell said.

At Walmart, the store is launching their layaway program 30 days earlier this year than last year and adding new items that qualify like sports equipment and small appliances. The layaway program starts this Sunday and ends December 14.

"A lot of customers live paycheck to paycheck, so they only have a little to spend, so you are able to do that, you can shop in the beginning," said Jeff Randall with Walmart.

At Walmart, the fee is $5 to layaway and you must put 10 percent down. The total purchase must be $50 or more and the final payment is due December 14. With a final payment, shoppers will receive a refund of their $5 layaway fee on a Walmart gift card.

Over at Toys R Us, the store has done away with any up-front layaway fees, at least through October 31. It's free to layaway, plus 20 percent down of your total purchase plus taxes. You make additional payments at any time, but 50 percent of the total price of your order must be paid within 45 days and the total amount must be paid in 90 days.

"Nobody wants to have this cost up at one time," said Mack Ortiz with Toys R Us. "You don't have to hide this stuff at home; we will hide it for you so it's amazing, it's a win-win."

Over at Sears, the company is expecting to drop their $5 layaway fee next month. The program works like this: it's 20 percent down, and four payments are due during the eight-week contract.

While some stores are offering layaway for free, other stores are offering free and it's obvious. However, you must read the fine print because there are hidden fees especially if you don't purchase your items.

At participating Best Buy stores, it's a 5 percent fee of your total purchase plus 25 percent down. If you cancel your order, the 5 percent fee is non-refundable and any money you put down will be given back to you on a Best Buy gift card.

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