In an earlier blog, “The Rise of the Dollar General Shopper,” I wrote about the recent phenomenon of consumers waiting later to make seasonal purchases. I used as my example, the Dollar General philosophy that you don’t display winter gloves until the first day it gets cold. The Dollar General shopper simply does not have the money to anticipate the season. I made the case in that article that as more consumers feel lingering effects from the recession (real and psychological) they are following the Dollar General pattern. Consumers simply either do not have the money or are unwilling to go into debt via their credit cards.
But who is best positioned to benefit from this phenomenon? I think Kmart leads the list. Its revival of Lay Away two years ago means that it is already positioned in consumers’ minds as the place to go make sure that you can get what you want without having to pay for all of it early. Toys R Us also got into the act last year so they are going to be a strong destination as well.
I did some searching on Google and found some other bricks and mortar retailers offering lay away. There are Kmart’s sister company, Sears, Marshall's, TJ Maxx, Burlington Coat Factory and Hallmark (that was a surprise).
What really intrigued me, however, was a new business model. It’s from Elayaway.com. This aptly named company allows consumers to purchase from Wal-Mart, Best Buy and other bricks and mortar retailers via the elayaway.com on line mall. They handle the layaway process and in doing so have neatly inserted themselves between the retailer and the consumer.
If you know of any other retailers offering lay-away or alternative means of handling shoppers who don’t want to charge or anticipate the season, let us know.