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A layaway involves setting aside the goods by a retailer (usually) for a customer until the customer makes a final payment. Most layaway transactions involve an initial minimum deposit. Subsequent payments may be scheduled or unscheduled based upon the layaway terms of the seller. Risk of ownership remains with the seller until final payment is made. In most cases, the retailer must either replace the goods or issue a refund if the goods are damaged or destroyed prior the customer taking possession. Revenue recognition on a layaway sale must be deferred until the customer makes final payment and takes possession of the goods.

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