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      Layaway programs offer convenience for shoppers

      Shoppers say layaway makes Christmas shopping convenient especially during the struggling economy / Sarah Bleau

      With pricey toys and expensive electronics on Christmas wish lists, layaway has been a popular tool in the toolbox for shoppers who don't want to drop a lot of money at one time.

      For the first time in a few years, layaway is back at Wal-Mart, and at its East Albany location the lines were long in the morning on its first day at the discount megastore.

      "That's why I told my son, let's come out while we can before it's picked over because it's going to go fast," says shopper Diedra Lewis, who says Wal-Mart's layaway program is hassle free.

      For Wal-Mart's layaway program, customers pay a 10 percent down payment along with a $5 service fee on a total purchase that is $50 or more. Each item must be more than $15. Final payment and pick up is on Dec. 16.

      Sears is offering eight week layaway contracts with a $20 or 20 percent down payment along with a $5 service fee. K-Mart also does layaway for an eight to 12 week contract for purchases over $300. Big ticket items are available for layaway at Toys R Us.

      "It's convenient," says Shopper Lawanda Hines. "Pay a little here and the rest later."

      Layaway isn't just convenient for Christmas shoppers; it's also convenient for those who can't afford to spend a large sum of money all at once.

      "It helps us out a lot, especially with the economy being the way it is, we don't have all of the money to get what we want to get right now, so we put a little down payment and keep paying along as we go. We'll have it by Christmas," says Lewis.

      Lewis is taking advantage of layaway programs for more than just Christmas presents.

      "My grandson's second birthday is coming up so they helped me out with that. I did his layaway for his birthday and I'll be back tomorrow to do his layaway for Christmas," she says.

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