Black Friday: Layaway starts now

Layaway area at Burlington Coat Factory in White Plains, N.Y.National Layaway Week has already come and gone (Oct 4- Oct 8 according to Kmart, which invented the event), a full seven weeks before Black Friday and 11 weeks before Christmas. But it's not too late to do your shopping now and have enough time to make the payments to get your items out of hock by the holidays.

In decades past, layaway programs were designed for people who could not get credit cards, and as credit cards became more available to the masses, layaway became unnecessary. In fact, Walmart ended its layaway program in 2006. Target has never offered a layaway plan. A Target customer service rep told WalletPop the chain will offer a 5% discount on Target card purchases beginning Oct 17.

As the economy began to fail, however, smart retailers such as Sears have revived their layaway programs in hopes of boosting their bottom lines. And layaway isn't just for toys and large appliances. You can layaway gifts for everyone on your list at any number of big name retailers:

Toys "R" Us
Toys "R" Us not only makes layaway possible for the hottest toys and game consoles of the season, but also holds items for you so curious children can't find them in your closets.

Best Buy
Best Buy gives you eight to 12 weeks to purchase computers and electronics with a 25% down payment on the item. Buyers must stick to a payment schedule or risk having the item returned to store inventory. Not all stores participate.

Shane Company
There is no reason to short-change mom this year with the ability to put fine jewelry on layaway. With a 20% down payment, and no additional fees, you can take as long as six months and still use the return policy that allows a return for a full refund 60 days after item pickup.

Kmart has eight to 12 week contracts that let you purchase most any gift item in the store, in-person and online layaway. There is a $5, non-refundable service fee and a $15, or 10%, down payment required.

Burlington Coat Factory
Burlington Coat Factory offers 60-day layaway for clothing and household goods, and 90 days for Baby Depot items like baby furniture and strollers. Buyers must stick to a payment schedule, and pay a $5 service fee. There is a $10 cancellation fee if the layaway purchase is canceled and not completed.

T.J. Maxx and Marshall's
The stores only offer layaway at certain locations and have quite a few rules and restrictions. Where available, you must make a 10% down payment for layaway on brand-name and designer items. Jewelry and clearance items cannot go on layaway. The payment term is 30 days and because the program is only offered at certain locations, it's best to call ahead to inquire
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