Summer doesn't officially end until Sept. 22, but Kmart wants you to start thinking ahead to the holidays — even as it pokes fun at itself for its summertime Christmas ad. "It's too early for Christmas, so just to be clear, this is not a Christmas commercial," the ad begins. "Let's say you have an event in late December that you need a lot of gifts for, like, maybe your entire family is having a birthday on the same day," the ad says, as it goes on to mention the benefits of Kmart's layaway program. Just ignore the parade of holiday imagery in the background: the yule log, the twinkling tree, and, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Early holiday ads have become a bit of a Kmart tradition, as it tries to one-up the competition by reminding cash-strapped shoppers of its layaway program. According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 40 percent of Americans began their holiday shopping before Halloween last year. Kmart, a unit of Sears Holdings, offers layaway year round, but right now it is running a no-money down promotion that runs through Sept. 20.
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-Christina Cheddar Berk, CNBC.com
First published September 4 2014, 2:43 PM