MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Before there was Black Friday or Cyber Monday, there was layaway.
In the 1930s, layaway was developed to ensure people could shop even during tough economic times. More than 90 years and one pandemic later, the largest retailer in the U.S. - Walmart – shut down its layaway program.
To help navigate layaway alternatives, FOX13 talked with consumer adviser Clark Howard.
“Walmart, like so many other retailers, is facing this terrible inventory problem. They don’t know when they’re going to get things, or when they sell out of them, when they’ll be able to get them again,” Howard said.
Putting things on layaway means those items are no longer available for sale, and people often don’t redeem their layaway.
“So the real push on this - Walmart - they needed to know, with the inventory issues, when they sold something, it was sold,” Howard explained.
Walmart is offering an alternative plan called Affirm. It’s a buy now, pay later plan.
According to Howard, everywhere you go shopping this Christmas season, almost without exception, they’re going to offer you buy now, pay later. You can split your payments over four months or for permits, depending on what cycle they choose. Some plans are interest-free. These plans can be very alluring to people.
“The problem that’s been going on is the data shows one out of three people that used buy now pay later don’t get it paid off on time,” said Howard. “They were on their credit. They end up with penalties and interest. So that is the big alternative - that you’re going to be pushed to online and in stores, but you’ve got to know you got a budget for it because if you don’t pay on time, it’s going to eat you up.”
FOX13 asked Howard whether there is an alternative that he likes and could stand behind.
“I’m going to be Ebenezer Scrooge right now. I prefer that you save up your money so that you can pay cash for the item that someone wants,” Howard said. “So I’d rather you tell your child, guess what, you’re going to get the blah blah blah when it’s available. And when it’s available in this world means when you’ve got the money to hand over the cash.”
Some stores still offer layaway.
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