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Strapped shoppers put pens, pencils on layaway

Posted by on Aug. 26, 2009 at 6:07 PM
  • 11 Replies

Thought I would post this since many of us were cussing and discussing school supplies, their cost, and  so on  last week ( I believe it was).......

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32541689/ns/business-consumer_news

 

Strapped shoppers put pens, pencils on layaway

Basic school supplies are making such purchases spike early this year

updated 11:24 a.m. PT, Mon., Aug 24, 2009

NEW YORK - To gauge consumers' strain, look no further than the rows and rows of plastic bags awaiting layaway payments at Kmart. They are filled with back-to-school basics — not just T-shirts and jeans but notebooks, magic markers and pencils.

It is unheard of for layaway rooms to be so packed at back-to-school time and for the packages to include relatively cheap school supplies.

A record number of shoppers, shut off from credit and short on cash, are relying on Kmart's layaway program to pay for all of their kids' school needs, said Tom Aiello, a spokesman for Kmart's parent Sears Holdings Corp. Layaway allows shoppers to pay over time, interest- free, and pick up their merchandise when it's paid in full.

"It's a sight. In the past, we would see layaway start to pick up around Halloween" as people get a jump start for Christmas, said David Travis, manager of a Kmart store in Conover, N.C.

Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp. said its layaway business is stronger than a year ago. And e-Layaway.com, which offers online layaway services for about 1,000 merchants, has seen its business double from the same time last year. Customers are setting aside even $25 calculators and $30 backpacks.

The word "layaway" had more than double the interest among U.S. searchers in August 2009 than it had in August 2008, according to Google Insights for Search.

Retailers that don't offer layaway are seeing financially strapped shoppers keep buying smaller amounts and using more cash than credit to pay.

"It just tells you that consumers have no money — even that $30 backpack is something they can't afford," said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research group.

Layaway has its roots in the Great Depression. It became passe in the past two decades with the rise of credit cards.

But the recession and financial crisis have caused banks to raise rates, pare credit limits and close accounts. For some consumers, layaway is the best option to budget for purchases.

Buying a little at a time and other signs of stress are casting a dark cloud over the holiday season, which accounts for as much as 40 percent of annual sales for many retailers.

Many economists expect to see another holiday season of sales declines, on top of last year's Christmas period, the weakest in several decades. That's raising more doubts about an economic recovery because consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

Kmart's Travis predicts this Christmas will be a "record-setting" layaway season.

The worries about a weak Christmas come amid a back-to-school season that the National Retail Federation expects will see families cut 8 percent of spending from last year.

Tracey Y. Chandler of Rocky Mount, N.C., started using layaway at the local Kmart last Christmas as the economy soured and again this past summer to furnish her 8-year-old daughter's bedroom.

Last weekend, she put aside $150 worth of back-to-school clothes at Sears stores.

"The job market is too unstable to take on additional debt," said Chandler. She and her husband both work as teachers' assistants, and she fears they could be casualties of budget cuts.

Sears Holdings brought back layaway to its namesake department stores last holiday season after a two-decade hiatus. This year, the company also is copying old-fashioned Christmas club bank accounts to help its Kmart and Sears customers save for gifts.

Competitors have been slow to follow, which may give stores like Sears who have them an edge.

Wal-Mart discontinued the practice in 2006, except for jewelry, citing rising costs and falling demand. TJX Cos., which offers layaway in some of its Marshalls and T.J. Maxx stores and nearly all of its A.J. Wright locations, declined to comment on its layaway business.

Melissa Garcia, who writes a popular blog called Consumerqueen.com, said more moms are asking stores to bring back layaway this season. "They just don't want to disappoint their kids," she said.

For nearly a year, frugality has been the overriding trend in consumer spending. Shoppers have pushed up sales of store brand foods and paper towels, turned coupon use into a hobby and held out for 70 percent off sales and gently used second-hand clothing and housewares.

Stores have reported spikes in spending around common paydays, showing how stretched people are, and shoppers are even ditching more items at the checkout as they recalibrate what they really need.

Those are big worries for retailers, some of which get up to 40 percent of their revenue from holiday sales.

Mark Vitner, a senior economist with Wells Fargo, estimates that total holiday sales will be down 3.5 percent, on top of a 2.5 percent drop a year ago.

Michael Dart, a retail strategist for consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates, says that for many Americans, their economic situation only worsened from last Christmas.

"Last holiday, shoppers were in shock" with worry from the financial meltdown. This year customers' problems are more concrete: job losses, reduced hours and reduced or unavailable credit. "This holiday, they're facing the reality."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

by on Aug. 26, 2009 at 6:07 PM
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Replies (1-10):
shinyhappymom
by Member on Aug. 26, 2009 at 6:12 PM

What does a typical school supply list look like?  My kids aren't in school.  I just can't imagine how it could be expensive enough to require layaway. 

07upsydaisy
by on Aug. 26, 2009 at 6:17 PM

I'm waiting for a sort of "Christmas in July" sale for school supplies in say, oh...May should do it.  Give ya six months to afford it all.

My brother has two girls in school and I dread that coming for my son.

Vampee_Mom
by on Aug. 26, 2009 at 6:18 PM

 

Quoting shinyhappymom:

What does a typical school supply list look like?  My kids aren't in school.  I just can't imagine how it could be expensive enough to require layaway. 

This was my son's list this year.... He is in middle/jr high school (depending on how the your district labels these grades) This of course does not count little things like: printer cartridges (needed for papers and projects to be turned in), software (like power point and excel for his ED Tech class for homework and such),  printer paper, and  all those other little things you need through out the year and most of these things have to be replaced multiple times through out the year....  

Then of course there is : clothes, shoes, back pack, lunch box (if you kid carries a lunch), any cost for extra curricular activities (many have fees now) and some schools actually (in Jr. High/ High School) have you pay lab fees for some classes as well.

1 Pack 2 7/8th inch square Post-It Notes

5 Highlighters Asst. Colors (5-pack)

12 Colored Pencils

1 Elmer’s Glue Stick

1 Roll Clear Scotch Tape

1 pack of red pens

1 Hand Held Sharpener

1 pair of scissors

2 3-Ring Binder 2"

(No Expandable / Accordion File)

1 composition book for Language Arts

2 single-subject spiral notebooks for Language Arts

2 spiral notebooks

for math

1 package of graph paper for math

1 pack 500ct Notebook Paper / College Rule

2 boxes of #2 Pencils,

at least

Pink Pearl Eraser

8 Dividers for 3-Ring Notebook

1 Pencil Pouch

1 Box Reinforcers

1 Ruler (metric and standard)

1 box of colored markers (NO permanent markers!)

2 boxes 200 ct facial tissue

Scientific Calculator (pi, sq. root, exponents, parenthesis, !)

Note: teachers may modify this list or request other items during the first month of

school.

* Please label items with student’s name.

07upsydaisy
by on Aug. 26, 2009 at 6:24 PM

Just need to plant one of these. 


shinyhappymom
by Member on Aug. 26, 2009 at 6:25 PM

Thanks for the list.  That is a lot of stuff!  I'm guessing that they accumulate things each year that can be used over.  Why buy a bunch of spiral notebooks that don't get used completely?  Why don't they just use loose leaf paper and 3 ring binders year after year?  Why have a pencil sharpner for each child when you could just have one in the room to share? 

I think that this is an example of our problem with over consumption. 

HeAvEnLyMoMoF3
by on Aug. 26, 2009 at 6:27 PM

Bump, I'm so happy about layaway coming back to sears and that k-mart has it as well, it really helps a lot of families especially around holidays and back to school. I love that burlington coat factory does layaway since they carry a lot of the brand name clothes that my family wears for a lot less then regular department stores. I hope that more stores will start offering this!

Vampee_Mom
by on Aug. 26, 2009 at 6:34 PM


Quoting shinyhappymom:

Thanks for the list.  That is a lot of stuff!  I'm guessing that they accumulate things each year that can be used over.  Why buy a bunch of spiral notebooks that don't get used completely?  Why don't they just use loose leaf paper and 3 ring binders year after year?  Why have a pencil sharpner for each child when you could just have one in the room to share? 

I think that this is an example of our problem with over consumption. 

When my son was attending  a regular  public school, and I know this is true  for most younger grades as well, many items on the list were not for his use. They were for class room use.. He didn't keep his crayons, as an example, they went into a classroom kitty for all to use.. Same with glue, scissors and other items. That's one reason why many things aren't recycled and used for the next year, we didn't actually get to keep any of it..

The spiral notebooks, each one is for a different subject or project. So they generally can not be reused or cross used between classes.

Also when my son attended a regular public school we also had to pitch in and buy copy paper for the class as well. They did not issue text books to the kids, instead the majority of work was done from/on photo copied worksheets. So we would have to help supply that as well.

Then of course there are: field trip cost, for younger grades classroom snacks, and some other odds and ends that come into play through the school year too.

Sending kids to school gets real spendy.

 

lilyrose73
by on Aug. 26, 2009 at 6:44 PM

 My daughter's school supplies cost about $9 plus $7 for a new backpack, and my son's list cost $6 and he is using his backpack from last year.  I am not looking forward to middle and high school when the lists start getting crazy.  I know that some schools also charge a school "fee" and that can get expensive too. 

I did buy my kids a few new clothes for school, I spent $42 with shipping and tax and I got my son 4 t shirts and a pair of shorts, and DD got 3 shirts and a pair of shorts.  I love clearance at The Children's Place!

 


 


Champions find a way... Losers find an excuse

cesca511
by Member on Aug. 26, 2009 at 7:01 PM

After reading some of the lists posted in other groups, I am so grateful for my son's school district.  They don't require you to buy ANY supplies.  All the kids NEED are a backpack and lunchbox.  Everything else is supplied by the district.  Each teacher will send home a classroom wish list of things that she likes to use in the classroom.  It is completely optional.  This year my son's teacher asked each student to bring in a box of tissues, a container of sanitizing wipes and a box of Ziploc bags. That's all.  And they are only requests.  If you can't afford to buy them, then you don't have to.  It really pisses me off when the kids have to bring in the supplies for the teacher to use.  My niece had a 2 page list and most of it was things that the teacher would be using like dry erase markers and a special kind of pen for grading papers.  Its just sad that the school doesn't at least supply their employees with the supplies needed to do their job.

 "Everything that is or was began with a dream." ~ Lava Girl

Vampee_Mom
by on Aug. 26, 2009 at 7:05 PM


Quoting cesca511:

After reading some of the lists posted in other groups, I am so grateful for my son's school district.  They don't require you to buy ANY supplies.  All the kids NEED are a backpack and lunchbox.  Everything else is supplied by the district.  Each teacher will send home a classroom wish list of things that she likes to use in the classroom.  It is completely optional.  This year my son's teacher asked each student to bring in a box of tissues, a container of sanitizing wipes and a box of Ziploc bags. That's all.  And they are only requests.  If you can't afford to buy them, then you don't have to.  It really pisses me off when the kids have to bring in the supplies for the teacher to use.  My niece had a 2 page list and most of it was things that the teacher would be using like dry erase markers and a special kind of pen for grading papers.  Its just sad that the school doesn't at least supply their employees with the supplies needed to do their job.

Wow!!!!You have an awesome school district....   Everyone I know (in various parts of the country) have a long list of supplies, that always includes not  only supplies for the classes general use ( like the tissues and stuff) but also supplies for the teacher's use as well..


 

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