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Sam’s Club, Kmart Push Holiday Deals

New York — Sam’s Club and Kmart are trying to build holiday traffic and stretch consumer dollars a bit further this year with two new programs.

This month Sam’s Club began offering $10 memberships that would allow new families and businesses to shop in its warehouse stores for 10 weeks. The company hosted one of two weekend sign-up events last weekend and will host the second one today through Sunday, inviting consumers to sign up for the special membership package during regular club hours.

The company is getting the word out about the offer with a newspaper campaign touting its USDA meats, $4 generic-drug program and its seasonal merchandise.

“We know we can easily demonstrate the value at Sam’s Club in just one shopping trip,” said Mike Turner, membership VP at Sam’s Club. “With a temporary 10-week membership we’ll be able to give those who sign up a good chance to see what we can do for them everyday, and through the holidays.”

For its part, Kmart is promoting its layaway program, available in select stores, and has announced that it will continue during the holiday season.

“This holiday we know that savvy consumers want to hold onto their ready cash and don’t want to tie up their credit or incur interest charges on the cost of a purchase. Yet they still want to make Christmas happen for their families,” said Susan Ehrlich, financial services head, Kmart.

The company is encouraging customers to shop for their holiday gifts early and to take advantage of the program as a way to pay for them in installments leading up to the holidays.

Kmart noted that there are certain limitations to the program. For instance, the chain is not allowing home electronics items in excess of $200 to be placed in layaway. Also, all holiday merchandise and “limited supply” items that have been placed in layaway must be picked up by Dec. 5.