Early Holiday Shopping Trends

Josie Leavitt - November 17, 2015

I often lament about the retail rush to get from one season to the next, and this year is no exception. Our holiday books have been out since Halloween, and calendars, planners, and gift wrap are on full display. What’s interesting to me is how this year the shopping patterns are different than in years past. People are planning ahead and this is a new thing for my area. I’ll be perfectly honest, this time of year the only people I would hear exclaiming,”I’m done with my holiday shopping!” are the senior citizens who plan ahead and then enjoy the fun of the holidays without the frantic shopping. This year is different.
So many customers have not only started their shopping, but have finished it! I’m not sure what’s in the water this year, but there seems to be a thought going around to just get it done. Maybe there is a magic to having all our holiday books and doo-dads out now. People are reminded about them and if they’re in the bookstore and see a cute box of holiday cards it might trigger a thought about what one the kids might like, or what to get Uncle Jeff. Usually, this kind of early planning is triggered by the weather. The more winter-like the weather, the more we could count on folks coming in to warm up and thinking about Christmas. But it’s been unseasonably warm and lovely out without a hint of snow, so I’m not really sure what’s causing this.
Customers actively complain about everyone rushing the seasons, yet they keep asking for more holiday books and boxed cards. And calendars! My goodness, we’re selling a lot of them. Maybe it’s me, but I only get a calendar when I’ve absolutely run out of space on last year’s to write down things that are happening in the new year. Stocking stuffers are now getting a lot of attention. As happy as I’ve been to not have the usual post-foliage retail slide, I’m worried that these great retail days are boding ill for the holiday season. If all these customers are declaring that they’re done with their holiday shopping, what will December look like sales-wise?
I was lamenting this to a customer who is also a very good friend and she allayed my fears. “Here’s the thing: while I might look like I’m planning ahead, I’m very likely to not remember where I’ve hidden things from my family. So, I’ll be in during December replacing the things I cannot find.” I hugged her and suggested a few more books.

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