Leg of Lamb Layaway

A layaway policy could help consumers afford a sumptuous holiday dinner.

Christmas layaway programs have been in the news lately with Walmart, Kmart, Sears and Toys “R” Us among the retailers getting publicity for restarting a program that had been a retailing mainstay before the days of easy credit. With layaway a consumer picks out an item – say a shiny new bike – and has the store hold it while they make a down payment each week. This way the bike is paid in full just in time for Santa to place it under the tree. The big news this year is that most of the stores are foregoing the $5 or so fee they used to charge for such a service. That news alone got them a mention on all of the evening newscasts and write-ups in all of the papers.

It seems to me that this is a program that supermarkets could latch onto. Many chains, including Wegmans, ShopRite and Kings, offer holiday dinner programs. In the weeks
right before Thanksgiving and Christmas circulars will be featuring fully-cooked dinners for four complete with a turkey or ham, two sides, salads, bread and rolls a pumpkin pie and all the fixin’s for about $129.00.

Why not offer such a program on layaway? Starting the first week of October consumers could pre-order their dinners and pay $10 or so per week and have all, if not the bulk, of their dinner paid for by the time the holiday rolls around. I’m not sure of all of the implementation aspects and fine details – that’s why you have a vice president of marketing – but I would think it could be tied in some how with a frequent shopper card. Those retailers offering a house charge could simply add the $10.00 to the tab each week.

Imagine the publicity if you sent out press releases to the local TV stations in late September informing them about Thanksgiving dinner and touting it as a way to enable
consumers to treat their families to an economical sumptuous feast. You could also tout that they’d have another $130 or so to spend on those Black Friday sales since they won’t have to shell out money for food on Thanksgiving week.

Then when the time comes to pick up that dinner you could talk them into “upgrading” from the regular apple pie to an apple caramel crunch pie for only a few dollars more.

It’s too late to implement this idea for this holiday season, but before you know it Easter 2013 will be here. Maybe it’s time to start thinking about offering a leg of lamb dinner on layaway.

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