What Do Shoppers Think of Layaway Services?

kathryn by Kathryn Hawkins on December 6, 2011
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The holiday shopping season has begun, and you’re eager to get customers to visit your store and spend money. If they’re hesitant about paying with credit cards and don’t have enough cash for big-ticket items, why not offer an old-fashioned layaway program, just like those your Grandpa once used?

The Intuit Small Business Blog recently discussed the pros and cons of offering layaway from a small-business owner’s perspective. But how do customers feel about paying for purchases over time? ConsumerSearch.com recently polled more than 1,000 shoppers about layaway services. Here are a few of the survey’s most interesting findings:

  • Consumers like layaway. Shoppers expressed a surprising and generally positive feeling towards using layaway, with 96 percent of all respondents being completely satisfied or mostly satisfied with their layaway experiences. Not one respondent reported an overwhelmingly negative experience with layaway.
  • Shoppers think layaway is a useful budgeting tool. When asked how they felt about layaway in general, 35 percent of respondents said that the service helped them budget for items that would otherwise be too pricey to purchase. Meanwhile, 26 percent of respondents also said that layaway helped them stick to their budgets, and 14 percent claimed that it helped them manage their credit more easily.
  • Consumers would use layaway primarily for big-ticket items. Most respondents thought that layaway made the most sense for expensive items, such as electronics like computers and cameras (55 percent), furniture (48 percent), and large appliances (47 percent). However, when it comes to Christmas shopping, they said layaway makes sense for budgeting on smaller items, too: 42 percent said they’d consider using layaway for holiday gifts.
  • Flexible terms could prompt more consumers to use layaway. ConsumerSearch’s poll respondents said that they’d like to see layaway offered online (39 percent) and in their favorite types of stores (38 percent). They’d also like stores to waive cancellation fees (36 percent) and to offer flexible terms that can be modified during the course of the agreement, if necessary (30 percent).
  • Most shoppers are open to using layaway. Just over half of the people surveyed said they’ve never used layaway, but they’re willing to try it. More than a third of respondents said they’d be willing to use layaway in the next six months, and another third said they might be.
  • Layaway isn’t just for shoppers on tight budgets. Although it’s often assumed that low-income shoppers are the most likely to use layaway services, that’s not actually the case: The survey found that consumers with household incomes both below $40,000 and up to $200,000 were almost equally as likely to have used layaway services.

Consumers are most familiar with layaway services at big-box retailers like Wal-Mart and Sears, but small businesses can build successful layaway programs, too. For example, Wonder Works toy store in Charleston, S.C., sells more than a quarter of its holiday purchases through layaway. E-commerce stores can also make use of merchant services from companies like eLayaway to offer layaway plans online.

kathryn

Kathryn Hawkins is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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