Posted tagged ‘holiday shopping’

Hooray for Layaway

November 30, 2008

According to this MSNBC report, layaway is making a comeback. KMart was the only major retailer that never stopped offering layaway but now several other retailers are joining (or re-joining) KMart in offering customers a layaway program. Stores like TJ Maxx Corp., Goody’s Family Clothing Inc., Marshalls Inc. and Burlington Coat Factory Direct Corp are advertising layaway for holiday shopping.

I grew up in typical 1970’s middle class family – four kids, mom stayed home, dad worked a blue collar job with decent pay and benefits. My mom and my aunts often used layaway programs, especially just before Christmas. I remember standing with my mom in long lines for the layaway desk to make the weekly payment – but never the last payment, the one when you get to take the stuff home. Layaway was also a great way to hide Christmas gifts from the kids in a place they couldn’t possibly “accidentally” find them.

As a young adult working my first full-time job, I used layaway several times to get good deals on higher ticket items I couldn’t otherwise afford. I was sad to see so many stores stop their layaway programs in recent years. And even though I haven’t used layaway in a long time, it always made me happy in a nostalgic sort of way to see that KMart kept their program going.

Layaway was (and is) a great way to get the items you want when they are on sale even if you don’t have all the money to buy them on the day of the sale – without paying high credit card interest rates. It’s also a good option for anyone who has difficulty saving money until they have enough to buy a particular item. Once you’ve started making layaway payments you’re much more likely to keep making those payments to the end because if you stop you not only lose the things you put on layaway, you also forfeit most (if not all) of the money you paid to that point.

So hooray for layaway! I hope this is a growing trend and we start to see more and more stores with layaway programs again. As a nation we need to re-learn fiscal responsibility. Layaway is one small step in that direction.

Closing Retailers and Gift Cards

November 22, 2008

From an email I received this week…

Here is some information regarding retailers and future store closings. This coming holiday season please check with the retailers before you purchase your holiday gift cards, you need to be sure the cards will be
honored afterwards.

Stores that are planning to close after Christmas are still selling the cards through the holidays even though the cards will may be worthless in January. There is no law preventing them from doing this. This is referred to as ‘Bankruptcy Planning’. Below is a partial list of stores that you need to be cautious about.

Circuit City (filed Chapter 11)
Ann Taylor– 117 stores nationwide closing
Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug ,and Catherine’s to close 150 stores nationwide
Eddie Bauer to close stores 27 stores and more after January Cache will close all stores
Talbots closing down specialty stores
J. Jill closing all stores (owned by Talbots)
Pacific Sunwear (also owned by Talbots)
GAP closing 85 stores Footlocker closing 140 stores more to close after January
Wickes Furniture closing down
Levitz closing down remaining stores
Bombay closing remaining stores
Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January
Whitehall closing all stores
Piercing Pagoda closing all stores
Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January.
Home Depot closing 15 stores 1 in NJ ( New Brunswick )
Macys to close 9 stores after January
Linens and Things closing all stores
Movie Galley Closing all stores
Pep Boys Closing 33 stores
Sprint/Nextel closing 133 stores
JC Penney closing a number of stores after January
Ethan Allen closing down 12 stores.
Wilson Leather closing down all stores
Sharper Image closing down all stores
K B Toys closing 356 stores
Lowes to close down some stores
Dillard’s to close some stores

UPDATE: According to KSL.Com, the E-mail warning of gift card problems may not be very accurate. I think it is more accurate than not, as I’ve read news articles over the past several weeks that confirm many of the closings described in the email. Even if this list isn’t 100% accurate, the fact remains that there will be many store closings after this holiday shopping season. It would be wise to take that fact into account if you’re considering buying gift cards this year.

UPDATE 2: According to snopes.com, this email contains a mixture of accurate, inaccurate and outdated information. The U.S. economy is currently in unstable, uncharted waters. I would still definitely recommend doing a bit of research on any retailer before purchasing gift cards from that retailer. Better safe than sorry, as the saying goes.