Although there is no evidence that Christmas merchandise has arrived in stores earlier this year the media is widely reporting that retailers are pushing Christmas products earlier than ever.
“The media cry of too much Christmas too early is as big a tradition as Christmas tree, eggnog and Santa Claus,” said Jeff Westover of My Merry Christmas.com, whose annual report of Christmas trends is about to be released. “Major retailers like Wal Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Hobby Lobby and other such retailers customarily start displaying Christmas merchandise right after Labor Day. We’re less than 90 days away from Christmas. Some folks buy Christmas products because they like to get up exterior decorations before bad weather sets in or they even do a bit of gifting of decor items in advance of the season. It isn’t unusual this year, this is what happens every year.”
Yet the headlines persist that due to a poor economy retailers are pushing Christmas early as a means to drive up sales.
KARE11 Television in Minneapolis ran with the headline “Christmas Already?” Their store takes wide liberties in speaking for retailers:
Some analysts say retailers are desperate and don’t want another year of just so-so sales. Walmart is even bringing back its layaway program to get customers in the shopping spirit.
“It is a mischaracterization,” said Westover. “Our surveys show that the economy is going to be rough this Christmas, too, perhaps even more rough than last Christmas. But there is no correlation between seeing products on the shelves in September and the economy. Stores have always done this and you can dig through media reports from years past and hear the same whiny discourse from the media about early Christmas. It is almost as if they don’t like Christmas.”
Google searches for past news stories reveal habitual September headlines about “Christmas creep”, the art of promoting Christmas too early to the annoyance of the buying public.
“Each of the news stories from this week quote business experts from the National Retail Federation and some even quote spokespeople from retailers themselves and every one of the cite that it isn’t early and that a high percentage of customers want to see and buy Christmas products this early,” Westover said. “And that is because consumers have been conditioned to buy this way over generations of time. Even season to season it is not unusual to see things out early. Valentine’s Day products go out right after Christmas, swimsuits are available to buy in February in most fashion retailers and back-to-school merchandise hits the sales floor right after the 4th of July and yet nobody ever complains that those seasons are early — and yet the media, every year, rails on Christmas being too early.”