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• In more than 500 stores, holiday tunes will be playing at least through July 25 in the seasonal aisles, where customers can touch holiday merchandise such as stuffed animals, ornaments and light-up porcelain houses. Last year’s “Christmas in July” included 200 stores.

Toys 'R' Us is promoting its summertime discounts more heavily than last year with deals of the day and free shipping through Saturday.

Natalie Norris-Howser, spokeswoman at Sears Holdings, said the company’s summertime holiday promotions did “very well” last year and it may extend the sale as they did last year to appeal to cautious consumers.

“They’re people in general that don’t have the expendable cash,” she said. The event allows shoppers to see what’s going to be available so they can budget or put items on layaway, she said.

But many other Americans are in the same situation as Isabel Velazquez, 39, a Toys 'R' Us shopper who said she can’t think about spending right now.

“I just got laid off,” Ms. Velazquez, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., said.