Hold the plastic, the layaway is back

This holiday season, a retail classic is back: layaways.

For many families, it's long been a shopping mainstay. Put $10, $20 or $50 down on that new dress, winter coats for the kids or a crib for the baby. Make regular small payments, then pick up the merchandise in 30 to 90 days. But in recent decades, layaways got shelved by many retailers as consumers increasingly were only too happy to plunk down the plastic.

This year, in an economy battered by layoffs, bankruptcies and a stubborn credit crunch, some high-profile retailers are reaching out to cash-strapped customers by reviving the old standby.

"Layaway is very big for us," said Mike Meade, manager of the Sacramento Kmart on Stockton Boulevard, where layaway transactions helped boost holiday sales this year.

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