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by Anne D'Innocenzio
AP

New York, NY — Santa in the summer?

Retailers are pumping still more energy this year into trying to get shoppers to loosen their purse strings early for Christmas with sparkly ornaments, holiday music and special prices. In July.

Target Corp. is entering the game for the first time, with a one-day online sale starting Friday on 500 items from clothing to Blu-ray disc players that’s modeled after sales typically held Thanksgiving weekend. And Sears and Toys R Us are dramatically promoting “Christmas in July” online and in the stores based on the success they saw in last year’s efforts.

“We really wanted to create that sense of excitement, that sense of urgency,” said Target spokeswoman Molly Hanus.

Retailers pushed Christmas promotions as early as September during the recession as they competed for shoppers’ dwindling dollars and tried to get them back into stores. Some recession-weary shoppers have been glad to spread out the cost of the holidays, especially if discounts average 40 percent like Target’s. But others may be turned off by the snowflakes and Santas and glitz. And stores are divided as well.

“It’s smarter to buy this early,” said Ebony Rios, a 17-year-old high school student shopping over the weekend at Toys R Us in Times Square, where a Santa in sunglasses lounged in a swimming pool in one ad. The Clayton, N.C., resident — who said she spent $200 on her nieces and nephews at the store’s online summer sale last year — plans to take advantage again this year.

But Tammy Perez, 28, from Bloomington, Ind., wasn’t ready.

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