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Retailers hold Black Friday-style summer sales for Christmas shoppers

Video games were on sale this week at a Toys R Us in New York as the retailer offered discounts more familiar to holiday shoppers.
Video games were on sale this week at a Toys R Us in New York as the retailer offered discounts more familiar to holiday shoppers. (Bebeto Matthews/associated Press)

Sounding familiar?

"It's really a kind of fun and playful way to bring the joy of the holidays and the value proposition of the holidays . . . back into people's minds when they least expect it," said Greg Ahearn, senior vice president of marketing and e-commerce for Toys R Us.

Ahearn said several of the featured products are not typically discounted beyond the holiday season, such as board games and Disney Princess merchandise. But WSL's Corlett said one of the dangers of shopping for holiday gifts over the summer is that consumers are fickle, especially the young ones. The hot toy or must-have fad typically does not emerge until fall, and parents risk missing crucial items on the wish list by starting too early.

"Parents want to wait until children make up their mind what they want," she said.

Retailers are also reinstating the holiday tradition of Christmas clubs, which reward shoppers for saving money throughout the year. Toys R Us, Sears and Kmart are offering reloadable store gift cards that customers can add money to over the next few months. At the end of the promotion, the retailers will add 3 percent to the value stored on the card -- more than the interest rate on a five-year certificate of deposit. Toys R Us will calculate its bonus in October, while Sears and Kmart will run the campaign into November.

Sears and Kmart offered the cards last year, and Susan Ehrlich, president of financial services for parent company Sears Holdings, said customers loaded tens of millions of dollars onto the cards, which can be used only at the company's stores.

"People needed help managing their budgets, trying to find values and stretch their dollars," she said. "I think it's a concept that's still very appropriate for these times."


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