Advice on Using Layaway this Holiday Season

November 29, 2012

With the holiday season approaching, retailers are trying to make paying for holiday gifts more flexible for consumers by offering layaway options. Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina recommends consumers do their research and understand how a specific layaway program works before utilizing it.

The old-fashioned payment plan has made a big comeback in recent years and many businesses are capitalizing on its success. When purchasing items on layaway, the consumer typically makes a down payment and pays any storage fees, and the retailer will hold the items until they are paid off. The consumer is not charged interest on the items and cannot take the items home until they are fully paid for.

BBB offers the following guidance on using layaway for holiday purchases:

Know the terms. Although the premise is the same, the programs can work differently. Ask for a written contract and make sure to read it carefully. Understand when payments are due and how much time is permitted to pay the items off. Be aware of any down payments, set up fees or storage fees that may apply, as well as the refund policy.

Do your homework. BBB maintains reviews on businesses across the country. Before signing a contract, research the business at

Know your budget. Make sure the payment schedule fits your budget and be aware of any penalties you may incur if a payment is missed.

Keep records of payment. Hold on to receipts to avoid any disputes that could occur. These payment records will also be needed for any returns or exchanges.

For additional advice this holiday season, visit