Sears Holdings adds online layaway for Sears, Kmart customers

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Sears Holdings is bolstering the layaway programs of its Sears and Kmart stores with an online service. The program will launch October 9.

The company introduced the program to engage potential new customers and to retain existing ones. With consumers watching their spending during the recession, Sears told DMNews in August that it was seeing more use of layaway service during the back-to-school season. Therefore, it will make the service available to more consumers.

“With online shopping becoming increasingly popular as Internet use grows, as well as layaway making a comeback in these difficult financial times, online layaway was a natural evolution for Sears,” said Shannelle Armstrong, director of public relations at Sears Holdings, via e-mail.

The retailer will use an icon to indicate which items will be available online for layaway. Customers pay a $5 initiation fee to start a layaway contract, then make biweekly payments online or at any store. The fulfillment is being handled internally.

The online layaway services include a calculator for determining a payment schedule and the down payment required the layaway contract, a layaway manager and e-mail reminders of payment due dates.

Sears will promote the service via in-store signs, Web marketing and circulars.

In August, Sears introduced the Sears and Kmart Christmas Club gift card program, which allows consumers to save for their holiday purchases at brick-and-mortar stores or online. Last year, Sears reintroduced its in-store layaway program, while Kmart has used a similar program throughout its history. Sears and Kmart merged more than four years ago.

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