Is it too early to start thinking about Christmas shopping? Apparently, Sears doesn't think so.

The retailer and its corporate partners, including KMart, have launched special holiday sections called "Christmas Lane" on their Web sites — sure to become a big hit with those early bird holiday shoppers who start to panic when Labor Day rolls around.

The company also has opened Christmas boutiques at hundreds of its stores, MyFOXNY.com reports, a business move that aims to court holiday customers earlier than ever and get them to take advantage of the company's layaway offers.

The year-end holidays typically represent a giant chunk — as much as half — of retailers' annual revenues, and every year, the start of the holiday shopping season seems to creep earlier and earlier.

Retailers suffered through a particularly weak season last year as the United States suffered through the recession. The National Retail Federation reported a dismal 2.8 percent drop in the 2008 holiday season compared to the same period a year earlier.

It remains to be seen whether the concept of Christmas shopping in July will persuade skittish consumers to open their wallets.

But even if they do decide to commit $199 to buying the GE "Energy Smart" spruce tree from KMart.com, they may be disappointed to find that particular product won't be available until September.