Rushing the Seasons

Josie Leavitt -- September 25th, 2012

It’s that time of year again. That time when I complain about how we’re always rushing the seasons in retail. It is September 25th, three full months before Christmas, and yet I am getting carton upon carton of holiday books.

I just barely have a Halloween display up and running and now I’ve got a back shelf devoted to Christmas and Hanukkah books. I try to be a retail purist, and resist the urge to set a Christmas display much before Thanksgiving. And every year, my staff outvotes me and we set up the books much earlier. The only reason we do that is because so many people are buying their holiday books earlier and earlier.

I’ve noticed, too, that more people in September have bought a book saying it’s a holiday present than I can ever remember in the past. It’s always curious who these highly organized people are. They obviously plan ahead, and they are smartly spreading the financial burden of the holiday season through several months. But I will never understand these people.

When I was a kid the Christmas display went up the day after Thanksgiving and that was just fine for everyone. We enjoyed the season we were in.Halloween didn’t share the aisle with Thanksgiving and Christmas. I liked that. There was a real honesty in that to me. No one would have thought that having Christmas books up in September was a good idea. Why now do I feel like not having a section of Christmas books is actually hurting my business? I will remain steadfast, for now, and always know where my holiday books and decorations are, but I am loathe to put them until the beginning of November.

And no matter how much I might want to, I will not begin wearing my Santa hat until the day after Thanksgiving.

8 thoughts on “Rushing the Seasons

  1. Tracy

    This is a question that has me stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    I started shopping in August. As the aunt of 4, great aunt to one with two more on the way plus the two boys I babysit to shop for at Christmas I started in August. Not to mention that I have 13 birthdays between September and March to buy for as well. I have to start so early just for financial reasons.

    I also work retail, in the children’s section of a large book store.

    I feel like we lose some of the magic by putting holiday stuff out too early. On the other hand I have had many people buying gifts since July and have already had people ask for (and order) Elf on a Shelf and Advent calendars.

    We’ve also had customers ask for Christmas books in French and well as multi-cultural themed ones. It seems like we just can’t afford to wait or they will shop elsewhere, like online.

    In store our decorations go up November 1 as Canadian Thanksgiving is in October.

  2. kat Goddard

    Josie,
    Today I heard the first, convincing reason to put holiday items out on the floor early. A good customer came in and asked if we had all our holiday boxed cards out yet. We did. She was so pleased to hear that because now she could get her cards before she went down to Florida. She wanted to support one of her favorite stores with one last (rather large as it turned out) purchase before she left for the winter.
    best,
    kat

  3. Michael Walter

    I guess the problem is that the small minority of shoppers who *like* being offered Christmas fare in September (why not August or July?!) get to decide what gets sold for everyone else. I hate Christmas creep, but I don’t hate it enough to boycott stores that do it. So what’s the disincentive for store owners to cater to that minority? Hearing me grumble quietly? Hasn’t worked yet…

  4. Kat Brokaw

    IMHO… rushing it takes away that special quality… where’s the fun of anticipating the holiday when the decorations have been up three months? But I’m an old fogey, I suppose… and we live in a microwave society where we complain if we have to cook a meal more than 3 minutes…

  5. Lori

    I have the same problem! I’ve got a shelf full of Christmas books in the back room which I am loathe to put out just yet, but I know if I do, they will sell. Sigh.

  6. Carol Chittenden

    We have an annual tussle among staff about how soon to display the Christmas stuff prominently, and we finally created a section called Holiday, where those books can spend their vacation months, so at least they’re not in the back room, though they are in a very low traffic area of the store. There was a man shopping them quite intently this morning. But for some reason we’re always asked to do our first holiday giftwrapping of the year right around the fourth of July.

    Seems to me that gift-giving has become ubiquitous in the last 20 years. I wonder how many more years until it’s all Christmas all year, all the time, jingle jingle, red, green, and oi.

  7. Anita

    I agree, Josie. But I can’t make myself do anything related to Christmas until we’re actually in December. Won’t let my staff put up decorations until then, either!

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