Kmart expands layaway options for holiday season
Kmart, which heavily promoted its layaway options during the last two holiday seasons, is expanding the program in anticipation of another tough Christmas.
The extended layaway program allows customers to select their items and make biweekly payments over 10 to 12 weeks, an increase from eight weeks; items are picked up after they’ve been paid in full. The discount chain is also making more items eligible to be placed on layaway, such as washers, dryers and other big-ticket items.
“For us, it as an opportunity to continue to demonstrate an understanding of the hard times and give customers some extra solutions as they go into the holiday season,” Chief Marketing Officer Mark Snyder said.
Layaway has made a comeback during the economic downturn as consumers look to budget their Christmas shopping, a shift from the buy-now-pay-later mentality of credit cards.
Unlike credit cards, layaway plans typically carry no interest charge. Most stores require a small deposit or flat fee upfront and place some restrictions on what can be put on layaway, such as perishables and clearance items. A typical layaway term ranges from a few weeks to a few months.
With consumers still expected to spend carefully for the holidays, Kmart is expecting a competitive retail environment and is aggressively working to gain market share, Snyder said.
To that end, Kmart stores will again be open on Thanksgiving, which the company hopes will give it an edge over competitors who are closed on the holiday. And on the day after Thanksgiving, the stores will open their doors an hour earlier, at 5 a.m., for the annual shopping extravaganza known as Black Friday.
“There’s not a lot of good news or evidence out there that the holiday season is going to be very different in customer behavior compared with past seasons,” Snyder said. “Things are going to remain pretty tough.”