Kmart's first Christmas ad of the season? You decide

The kids are barely back to school, and summer doesn't officially end until Sept. 22, but Kmart wants you to start thinking ahead to the holidays—even as it pokes fun at itself for its summertime Christmas ad.

"It's too early for Christmas, so just to be clear, this is not a Christmas commercial," the ad begins. "Let's say you have an event in late December that you need a lot of gifts for, like, maybe your entire family is having a birthday on the same day," the ad says, as it goes on to mention the benefits of Kmart's layaway program.

Just ignore the parade of holiday imagery in the background: the yule log, the twinkling tree, and, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

But early holiday ads have become a bit of a Kmart tradition, as it tries to one-up the competition by reminding cash-strapped shoppers of its layaway program.

According to retail industry trade group National Retail Federation, nearly 40 percent of Americans began their holiday shopping before Halloween last year.

Kmart, a unit of Sears Holdings, offers layaway year round, but right now it is running a no-money down promotion that runs through Sept. 20. (And yes, that's still summer, too.)

—By CNBC's Christina Cheddar Berk

(CORRECTION: A version of this story misstated the dates of the promotion.)