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Toys R Us, other retailers hope layaway offers strengthen Christmas sales

Jessica Perry//October 6, 2011

Toys R Us, other retailers hope layaway offers strengthen Christmas sales

Jessica Perry//October 6, 2011

As a way to encourage skeptical consumers to resume higher-spending habits, one of New Jersey’s largest retailers is returning to an old standby strategy: layaway.

As a way to encourage skeptical consumers to resume higher-spending habits, one of New Jersey’s largest retailers is returning to an old standby strategy: layaway.

Wayne-based toy giant Toys R Us announced Tuesday it would extend its layaway policy to a larger number of toy categories, including video game hardware and tablet computers.

Toys R Us also announced an online program through which customers can shop online through Oct. 22, and take six months to pay for toys up to $100 and 12 months to pay for gifts $500 or more.

“We know that consumers will continue to look for ways to stretch their dollars this holiday season, but they still want to make sure they have that special Christmas gift for the children in their lives,” said Neil Friedman, president of Toys R Us U.S., in the announcement. “Since we first introduced layaway in our stores two years ago, thousands of customers have taken advantage of the program.”

John Holub, president of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association. said retailers are “wisely trying to provide as many options” as possible to consumers.

“Layaway was the precursor to the prevalence of credit cards — it was much more of a popular option. With the increase in credit cards, that disappeared,” Holub said. “In the current environment, with a little bit of a squeeze on consumer credit, it makes sense that it has returned.”

Holub said the key to holiday retail success is enticing people to enter the store, and financing options are just one of the creative ways merchants are preparing for Christmas.

Promotions, “Christmas Clubs” and popup stores are all strategies being used by New Jersey retailers.

“The retail industry is such a fluid and dynamic industry — really, retailers are only limited by their creativity and what they can offer the consumer,” Holub said. “What is old is sometimes new again.”

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