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Susan Ladika

Even pawnshops participating in layaway plans

It's a sign of the times. As consumers shy away from making credit card purchases and running up debt, layaway programs at retailers such as Kmart and Sears are making a resurgence.

pawnshop.jpg
Photo by Susan Ladika
But they aren't alone. Now even some pawnshops are getting in on the layaway act. Outside one Value Pawn and Jewelry shop in Tampa, Fla., a banner with Santa Claus, one of his reindeer and a Christmas tree proclaims "Layaway now for Christmas." Put 10 percent down, and the purchase is interest free till the jolly old elf arrives.

In a region where the unemployment rate tops 12.5 percent, and putting food on the table can be a challenge, offering layaway may be a way to get cash-strapped consumers to start thinking about the upcoming holiday season.

For those who want a more traditional shopping experience, retailers including Sears, Kmart, Burlington Coat Factory, Toys R Us and Babies R Us have all brought layaway back into vogue.

If that's not enough to attract shoppers, Sears and Kmart, which are owned by the same parent company, Sears Holding Corp., have declared this National Layaway Week, hoping to get consumers to walk in the door, pick out their holiday purchases now, and avoid going into debt.

It's another sign that Americans may have broken their debt addiction -- or had the choice of instant gratification through credit taken away from them.

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