We Wish You a Merry Christmas… In October

I definitely do not approve of the aisle that appears in CVS weeks before Halloween. You know, the one that is covered in red, green and silvery trinkets with perhaps the telltale red and white of a Santa hat peeking from a shelf. Can this country not wait a moment longer?

Curmudgeonly rant aside, I was pondering the phenomenon of the Christmas creep tonight. Do people actually start Christmas shopping that early?

Luckily the National Retail Federation had some answers for me. And yes, people really do. The NRF 2012 consumer holiday survey showed that in fact 41.4% of people will begin shopping before Halloween, especially if there are deals and bargains to be had. And this percentage has held steady over the past decade. I guess this year I could technically be included in the 41% because the gift I meant to send to my sister over the summer never quite got put in the mail – and will now be placed under the tree. But otherwise, you’ll find me solidly among the 16.2% who will start their shopping in the first two weeks of December.

That’s the consumer side of the story. But what about the retailers? Is there an explanation for those holiday shelves making their appearances pre-Halloween?

Well, the most logical answer is, if people are starting to shop for gifts well before Halloween, a smart store would start offering bargains and deals a little sooner, and put those cheery holiday signs directing people towards their merchandise a little sooner. I can see this being especially true for any in-store merchandise that could be easily purchased online: the customer is there in the store, perhaps for something else, and they see the merchandise at a price too good to pass up (and no shipping costs!), it would be easy to justify the purchase by saying, “well I was going to get this for little Suzie for Christmas anyway.”

For big ticket items this makes sense. But why on Earth does CVS carry those green and red Hershey kisses before Halloween when the orange and purple ones are an aisle over and they all taste the same? I have no answer. Thus, I can continue to gripe every October.

…On another note, it looks like holiday shopping is back up to pre-crisis levels:

holiday-spending_500px

Click image to see full size

Now. When does the Valentine’s day candy come out?

Happy holidays!

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