Consider Layaway for Holiday Shopping

November 15, 2004 – Posted at 5:45 p.m. CST

JONESBORO -- You've finally found the perfect Christmas gift...but you don't have the cash to pay for it, and you don't want to use a credit card, so now what? Sherri Spears is Christmas shopping for her 3 years old daughter, and this year she's using layaway instead her credit card.

"It eases the burden of spending a lot of money at one time," said Spears.

Plus, when last minute shoppers can't find hot toys like a Stingray Chopper Bike or the latest Holiday Barbie...layaway shoppers have theirs hanging in the back. But shoppers beware. All layaway polices are not created equal.

"We'll hold merchandise up until right before Christmas," said owner Richard Jerigan.

But across town at Wal-Mart it's a different story.

"You have to have all your layaways out by the 17th of December," said Jerry Thielemier, Wal-Mart Co-Manager.

Stores can also vary on minimum payments and payment schedules. While layaway is a good idea for budgeting it also helps Santa.

"I don't know if you remember when you were little, but it was a thrill to run around and see if you could find if there were a few packages around. You might figure out what they were, maybe even open them. So this eliminates that problem for the parents," said Jerigan.

But that's not the only problem layaway can eliminate. If your tots have to have something that requires "some assembly required" you might be better off with layaway.

"You can get things put on layaway a when you come back to pick them up. They'll put it together for you," said Spears.

That was the case at both Wal-Mart and J. Christopher, so call your favorite store and see if they offer the same perk.

"All and all I think layaway is good it helps the consumer," said Thielemier.

And one last suggestion, if you do use layaway keep a record of your payments. It may be useful if a dispute comes up.