updated 8/17/2009 1:45:03 PM ET 2009-08-17T17:45:03

Sears Holdings Corp. aims to get an edge over its competition this holiday season by getting shoppers to start saving for Christmas presents now through a new card that mimics an old-fashioned Christmas club account.

Shoppers can put aside money on a regular basis through Nov. 14 to add value to what it calls its Christmas Club card, according the Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based retailer, which operates Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Kmart stores.

When activated between now and Oct. 31, card holders can earn a 3 percent reward, up to a maximum of $100, based on the card's value.

The launch follows Sears' move last holiday season to resurrect its layaway program at its namesake department stores after a two-decade hiatus.

National Retail Federation's spokeswoman Ellen Davis said that while banks have Christmas Clubs to encourage customers to put aside money for Christmas, it's a "rare" move for retailers and reflects shoppers' worries that they don't want to rely on credit cards to finance their purchases amid financial concerns.

Based on research conducted for NRF, "I think shoppers like the idea of saving ahead for Christmas," Davis said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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