ColorTyme, America’s oldest franchisor of rent-to-own furniture, appliance and electronics stores said today its franchisees reported an increase in furniture rentals during the first three months of 2009, even though traditional retailers held huge after-holiday clearance sales on big-ticket items such as bedroom furniture, living room, furniture, and dining room furniture.

“In this economy, consumers appear to be avoiding large cash outlays and refraining from putting large purchases on their credit cards,” said Albert Kohut, ColorTyme’s vice president of operations. “Instead, it seems many people are being cautious and are choosing to rent their furniture and other durable goods rather than buying them outright.”

Kohut said ColorTyme stores’ rent-to-own agreements let customers make large purchases for necessities like mattresses, dining room furniture and sofas without large down payments or long-term purchase contracts.