Last year may have been the year of the layaway, with retailers including Toys “R” Us, Sears and Best Buy setting up plans for shoppers to start saving for that big purchase. Those plans are back in full force, but retailers are also looking for other ways to get consumers to make big purchases without fret, whether through “aggressive pricing” (i.e., discounts) or rebates and other cash-back ideas. The latest, which makes everything old new again, is Sears’ Monthly Payment Plan, which the company says offers “a more controlled form of borrowing.”
The plan is available only on purchases of $750 or more and requires complete payment (including interest) within four years, which seems to be how it differs from the traditional Sears credit card (or the Discover Card, which the company spun off in 1993). Sears is hyping the plan through a national marketing campaign, including a TV commercial featuring appliances, which are expected to post increased sales this holiday season. Like Chase’s Blueprint credit card payment service, the Monthly Payment Plan gives consumers more ways to manage their finances without scrimping on big-ticket items they may want or need. As the recovery continues its slow pace, don’t be surprised to see similar plans crop up.