Retailers, consumers and prices
Kmart cites boost from early deals, layaway
Retailer Kmart says early Black Friday specials and its layaway plan are generating interest from consumers who want to stretch their dollars this holiday season.
But everything is different this year. Consumers, who are grappling with rising unemployment, a global financial meltdown and harder-to-get credit, have cut back on spending and are changing their shopping habits.
Kmart, a division of Sears Holdings, introduced weekly deals Nov. 2, and plans to offer new specials every Sunday leading up to Black Friday.
For example, some of the Kmart deals to be offered in this Sunday’s circular include a navigation system, normally priced for $179.99, selling for $99; and an MP3 player that normally sells for $69.99 priced at $39.99.
Spokesman Tom Aiello said Sears, Roebuck stores will begin offering similar deals on Nov. 16.
With this holiday season expected to be the bleakest in perhaps decades, many retailers are offering discounts to spur early buying. This week, Wal-Mart said it would introduce new price cuts every week until Christmas on items such as toys and food.
“When we did our planning for the holiday season, consumers told us that they wanted to shop earlier, to give them more selection and power to get the best deals,” Aiello said. “They also wanted to have ways to stay within a budget.”
He said more customers also expressed an interest in Kmart’s layaway plan that gives shoppers up to eight weeks to pay for and pick up purchases. Before the widespread use of credit cards, people commonly used layaway to buy things like big-ticket items.
“Layaway this year is up significantly over last year’s numbers,” Aiello said.
With the economy so bad, will other retailers revive their layaway plans?