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Debit or credit...or layaway? A Depression-era payment method returns

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Layaway. It's a trend that has roots in the Depression-era, when some consumers had little to their name and retailers, in good faith, offered to let them make payments on merchandise they wanted to buy. When credit emerged as a popular payment method throughout the 1980's and 90's, layaway began dwindling and some retailers eventually got rid of the program.

But when the Great Recession hit in 2008, retailers found their customers once again looking to layaway to help manage their budget, spread out their shopping (especially during the holidays) and keep their credit in line. With this, many retailers jumped on the opportunity to promote their layaway programs as something of value for their cash-strapped customers, and some in recent years have even brought layaway back to their stores after having gotten rid of it.

For the past several years, Sears and Kmart have reported great success with their layaway programs. When it comes to why layaway is a great value for shoppers, reasons run the gamut, but one of the best incentives - for parents at least - might just be the fact that layaway keeps kids from snooping through closets to find super secret gifts! With consumers expected to put a much bigger emphasis on value this holiday season, layaway could just be the answer budget-minded parents are looking for.

And this year, parents will have an extremely easy time taking advantage of retailers' layaway programs for all their holiday wish lists. Toys "R" Us, Best Buy and Walmart have all announced they'll offer the popular option for holiday shoppers.

With prime-time ads from Walmart on how layaway is an opportunity to "split payments up into little bite-sized chunks," even more shoppers are likely to think about layaway to make holiday purchases this year. Watch the ads below.