NEW YORK, NY (October 3, 2011) -- With the holiday season approaching and consumers' budgets tighter than ever, many major retailers are bringing back layaway as a payment option for customers. Will many shoppers consider layaway as a payment choice for the holidays? According to a survey released today by ConsumerSearch.com (part of the About Group), fewer than half of respondents have used layaway previously, but an overwhelming majority (71 percent) are open to using layaway services in the next six months. Forty-two percent indicated they expect to use layaway specifically for holiday gifts. Additionally, a consumer's annual income does not appear to be a strong factor in willingness to use layaway.

ConsumerSearch.com, a Web site that does product research for consumers, to help them make informed shopping decisions, conducted the survey of members of Research Now's Consumer Panel in September 2011.  Polling 1,011 respondents, the survey examines consumers' previous experiences with layaway and the likelihood of whether or where they will use the program in the future. Highlights include:

  • Nearly half (46 percent) of respondents have purchased an item using layaway in their lifetime, either in a store or online. Almost all (96 percent) of these respondents were completely or mostly satisfied with the experience.
  • Income does not appear to be a factor in past usage of layaway. Consumers with household incomes under and above $40,000 reported previous use of layaway at an equal rate and are almost equally open to using layaway services in the next six months.
  • When given multiple choices, the most popular items respondents said they would purchase on layaway included big-ticket items, with furniture (47 percent) and large appliances (46 percent) leading the way. The third most popular layaway item was holiday gifts (42 percent).
  • The top stores used for past layaway purchases are Kmart (34 percent) and Wal-Mart (18 percent). For future layaway purchases, respondents indicated they would be most likely to use the payment option at Wal-Mart (15 percent) and local stores (14 percent).
  • Top reasons for using layaway include: liking that stores are providing another payment option (38 percent), agreeing that it's a way to budget for an item that would otherwise be too expensive (35 percent) and feeling that it's a good way to help stick to a budget (26 percent).
  • More than one-third (35 percent) of respondents agree that "it's great that stores are bringing back layaway."

"Many shoppers remember layaway positively from the past and are pleased that companies are bringing it back for the holidays. Perhaps more importantly, consumers recognize layaway as a potentially effective money management tool," said Christine Frietchen, editor-in-chief of ConsumerSearch.com. "As our survey results show, layaway will likely make a big difference to a number of shoppers this holiday season, especially as people face smaller budgets and look for ways to spend their money as wisely and effectively as possible."

 For a copy of the full ConsumerSearch.com layaway study, please contact Meredith Worsham, mworsham@about.com.

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 About The About Group

The About Group comprises the Web sites About.com, ConsumerSearch.com and CalorieCount.comAbout.com is a valuable resource for content that helps users solve the large and small needs of everyday life. ConsumerSearch.com analyzes expert and user-generated consumer product reviews and recommends the best products to purchase based on the findings. CalorieCount.com is an online resource that helps users solve the everyday challenges of losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle.

The About Group is part of The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT), a leading media company with 2010 revenues of $2.4 billion, includes The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe, 15 other daily newspapers and more than 50 Web sites, including NYTimes.com, Boston.com and About.com.  The Company's core purpose is to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news, information and entertainment.

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