17 comments on “So, do any UK retail chains do layaways?

  1. I’ve never seen this in a chain, but our local gallery used to run the “red dot” scheme. The pictures were reserved and you were paying for them, but they remained in the gallery marked as sold, with a red paper dot, until you finished paying for them.

    Obviously, that’s a scenario where having additional stock is a benefit rather than a cost.

  2. I can’t see this applying too often, particularly to technological goods, if you have to effectively “save up” until you get it, would it not be better to spend on the latest and greatest rather than a reserved item that has probably been superseded ?

  3. When I first met it in Australia (in the 80s) I wondered whether I could just remember it from childhood in Britain. My memory returned a definite “dunno, maybe, not sure”. My wondering was because the moment I heard the word I instantly knew what it meant. Suggestive but not conclusive.

  4. Probably not. The Consumer Credit Acts make it clear how to implement hire-purchase and how to pass on responsibility for hp to the finance company. Small traders in the UK are able to use hp, so why use something that is more complicated.

  5. Isn’t there something like this for marriage lists? I seem to remember that you could go into a store and pay something towards a gift, with a second and third choice if things didn’t meet the price. Oh! Well, back to the hookah , I suppose…

  6. not heard of any retail chains doing this – most will simply sign you up to a credit agreement. However, it sounds analogous to those Christmas clubs that used to exist in the good old days when the working classes oop North were social-minded

  7. Possibly still happens in small shops. There used to be (may still be) companies with warehouses of toys who produced their own catalogue (usually for Christmas but they also sold Halloween stuff and fireworks). A corner shop could sign up to get the catalogues to give to customers. They would then take the order from the customer and arrange to buy it from the warehouse with the end-customer paying the corner shop.

    Most of the stuff was at the tat end of the market and it was mostly aimed at those on low incomes. Often the customer couldn’t afford to pay up front so they would pay a little bit out of their cash wage/benefit (back in the days when you could cash a giro at the Post Office) each week in the run up to Christmas. Sometimes they lacked the money management skills to save up themselves – quite a few customers would collect their benefit/pension, buy some cigarettes then head straight to pub. They would then spend the rest of the week complaining about how little money they had.

    No real fee involved since no finance or storage costs (as the cornerstore didn’t place the order with the warehouse until the customer had paid up).

  8. Christmas hampers. You pay £2 a week or so, and at the end of the year they send you a hamper full of festive goodies. Though after the collapse of Farepak, the industry may well be in decline.

  9. Sounds odd.

    Generally for the consumer surely it’s better to either get low-cost HP (because then you get the product immediately) or save up and buy it once you’ve got enough.

    This only seems worthwhile for the truly financially chaotic, buying goods that are likely to run out.

    Holidays are often paid for on instalments after booking them, so I suppose that’s very similar. But there’s some point there because the individual holiday could sell out, and the price could increase.

    Yes, I’ve also seen art galleries do something similar, although there there’s a benefit to the gallery if they want to secure a sale but keep it on their wall for the exhibition. And even there it’s less common, because the Arts Council has funded an interest-free credit scheme for buying paintings.

    The Christmas Club is different, because there’s no actual product put away for the customer (hence the collapse of Farepak).

  10. I bought my 1st record player in 1964, using that method, from a pawnbroker’s saleroom in Edinburgh. It took me half a year at 5 bob a week, so I suppose the main benefit for them would be the use of that cash. I’ve never come across that system since.

  11. There use to be Laybuy in New Zealand when I was a kid. With inflation running at 20%, I guess it was easier to buy things at a fixed price and wait before you got them rather than save.

    I think the combination of easier credit and scraping of import restrictions means it’s quite a pointless concept these days.

  12. Never seen it in the UK, myself, but then, I’ve only been here 13 years.

    Most of my family’s Christmas toys were bought on layaway when I was a kid in the States, ISTR.

  13. Used to be called a Christmas club, right? One was a plot device in a Secret Seven story, I dimly recall, which would be 1950’s and probably old-fashioned then.

  14. Poundstretcher certainly did 10 years ago: I wrote the software for the branch computers to handle it. Whether they still do is another matter…

  15. Up till the 70’s most young working class men had formal suits for the weekend’s mating rituals. It was very common for them to specify their bespoke outfits and would typically start with a deposit, then pay as much as they could each week until the suit was paid for.

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