CHICAGO (CBS) — One of the hottest holiday promotions this year is already in full swing. Major retailers are slashing layaway fees, in order to reel in early Christmas shoppers.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker tagged along with a suburban family taking advantage of the latest deals.

Sinora Wright has started playing Santa early. She’s already picked up a couple of items from Toys R Us, and a couple more from Kmart.

Both stores are at the top of her shopping list, because for the first time they’re offering layaways without the $5 fee.

“It’s a motivator, because if I don’t have to pay the fee, that’s great,” Wright said.

In addition to Toys R Us and Kmart, shoppers can also find no-fee layaway offers at Sears and Wal-Mart.

Kmart store manager Kelly Schwartz said, “It tells me customers are seeking value. They’re seeking a way to get their gift-giving needs met, without finance fees.”

Customers also get a convenient payment plan.

“Guests have … now until December 16th to be able to spread out their payments,” Toys R Us store manager Tom Kelly said.

That’s the good news. Some of the fine print includes a $10 fee if you cancel after a certain number of days. And if that hot toy goes on sale Black Friday for a cheaper price, you can’t get a price match.

“We’re reserving that toy now, so it’s kind of sold,” Kelly said.

“The prices do tend to go down closer to Christmas,” Wright said. “[But] then they may not have the particular doll.”

Money-conscious Santas like Sinora are being selective, waiting to buy some toys, but putting some favorites on layaway.

It’s a tough choice for Santas of young children, but if you choose layaway, you have to shop early. Some of the “no service fee” promotions are over at the end of the October.

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