The Return of Layaway

With shoppers on a tight budget this season, more retailers are bringing back the installment-payment method. Here's where you can find it, and how it works.

You'd have to be TV-free to have missed Kmart's commercials over the past month touting the company's layaway program. Starting in October, the low-price retailer made a big push to get layaway noticed -- although Kmart has had layaway for 40 years. So why now?

As the economy's tailspin continues, Kmart figures customers will want a prudent way to pay. Layaway lets you select the stuff you want now (while it's in stock) and pay for it over time. By the time you take your purchase home, it's paid off, which means one less credit-card surprise come January.

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