Walmart and Kmart were the first to reach out to consumers with marketing and advertising last week, a little more than 100 days before Christmas.
This year, Walmart has free layaway on more than 35,000 items.
"You go do your shopping. Take it back to the layaway counter. We'll take 10% or $10.00, whichever is greater, hold your items for 90 days, and then return 'em to you," explained Walmart Regional Manager Shana Bailey-DeSmit.
Electronics, toys, jewelry, small appliances and select sporting goods are eligible for layaway at Walmart. The world's largest retailer added infant toys and automotive electronics like speakers and stereos to the list for 2013.
As in recent years, television and tablets are expected to be hot ticket items. The release of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles are also expected to drive sales.
"With the new game systems out this year, we think when those come in, they'll be hot and ready for layaway," said Bailey-DeSmit. "Of course, the iPads, the iPhones, and televisions. Lot of great things in electronics for you."
"We took a thousand kids, let 'em play with all the toys and they came up with the hot toys for the holidays. And so this year, we know its kid tested," Bailey-DeSmit said.
At the top of the list is Sesame Street Big Hugs Elmo by Playskool, Cuddles My Giggly Monkey by FurReal Friends and Furby Boom.
Walmart hopes the conveniences of layaway will help cash-strapped families.
Layaway began in the Depression era, but was replaced by credit card use in the 1980s. The recent economic downturn brought the program back to many retailers.
While Walmart offers layaway during the winter holiday season, Kmart continues to offer layaway year-round. Online sales have also boosted elayaway.com, which offers similar payment plans with more than 1,000 retailers.
Walmart layaway runs September 13 through December 13.