Walmart and Toys R Us both started their holiday layaway programs a month earlier this year. While this gives cash-strapped parents an extra few weeks to save up for their holiday purchases, it means that when most folks get to the gift-buying portion of their year in November, some sought-after items will already be claimed.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Toys “R” Us for the first time is letting shoppers reserve any of the 50 toys on its hot list. It said it already has had to stop taking reservations for several brands of kids electronic tablets and the Wii U gaming console until it receives additional shipments. At numerous Toys “R’ Us stores, shoppers have put on layaway all the available $60 talking Furby dolls in “pink puff” or “voodoo purple” colors, forcing more people to opt for the “plum fairy,” the retailer said.
And it’s not just toys that are being snatched up by the early birds taking advantage of layaway programs, some of which have decreased or gotten rid of fees.
A rep for Sears and Kmart tells the journal that its seeing a jump in layaway reservations for TVs and cameras, and that the average dollar value of layaway purchases has increased as customers see layaway as a way to finance bigger-ticket items without the fees or interest rates you’d get with a credit card or a rent-to-own store.
Our biggest concern is that the rush to claim things on layaway will result in product shortages when the traditional holiday shopping season begins. This will only lead to more people using layaway as a method of stockpiling coveted gift purchases earlier and earlier in the year, which is not why the programs exist.