By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s time to starting thinking about holiday shopping, and how you are going to pay for those gifts this year.

Tough economic times are causing more major retailers to offer layaway. Toys R Us, example, has broadened the number of items eligible for layaway, and this year the majority of their stores are participating.

Other major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Sears, Kmart, and TJ Maxx are offering layaway this year.

Edgar Dworksly of said, “Retailers are recognizing that the economy is not great for consumers and they are trying to find ways to allow them to make purchases, but on easier terms.”

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.

Shoppers at Toys R Us in Framingham said layaway fits the times, and many people learned a hard lesson about easy credit over the past few years.

“I think people are really thinking about what it really means to use your money, to save and also to think about what you are teaching your kids. And a dollar is a dollar, but you should really have it in your hand before you spend it,” said one woman.

Dworksy believes layaway can be a great tool to keep spending in check, but that shoppers have to do the math so they include layaway fees.

“You really have to learn the terms of each store’s policy. It varies from store to store,” Dworsky explained.

Although the terms are usually simpler than credit card agreements, layaway deals usually have multiple components.

“You can only buy certain items. You can either can or cannot buy on line. You have to make a minimum deposit. There is going to be a certain penalty if you cancel and that fee varies from store to store,” Dworsky said.

But, some shoppers said learning those rules is a small price to pay if it means no big credit card statements in January.

“That’s the best part,’ said one shopper. “You know you’ve got it done and taken care of and Christmas morning is great.’”

“To wake up on Christmas morning and not have a bill, oh my god, that’s a Christmas gift to yourself!” another woman said.

Layaway also allows you to lock in a good sale price on an item.

According to Massachusetts state law, a store is required to tell you all the details of their layaway plan. If there are any cancellation charges, those have to be in writing.


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