Why Do Stores Put Christmas Decorations Out So Early?

We see it every year, often times earlier than the year before it.

The season has just turned to fall. The days become shorter and the weather becomes cooler. Pumpkin-flavored everything takes over your favorite grocery outlet and kids start pondering what they want to dress as for Halloween.

But as you go to stock up on black-and-orange decorations for your front walkway, you see there’s already red-and-green tinsel being stocked on the shelves.

Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying it. Stores are putting out Christmas decorations at the same time they’re putting out trick-or-treat candy. Sometimes, twinkling lights even start popping up before Labor Day.

Even if you’re someone who can’t get enough of the holiday season, you surely also wonder: Why do stores put the end-of-the-year decorations out so early?

First — did you know this trend has a name?

Christmas shopping | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

We didn’t either. Until now.

It’s called the “Christmas Creep”  and while the title may seem new, it’s origin can be traced back to the mid-80s. This describes how retailers try to sneak their holiday merchandise onto shelves in small amounts early in the year. Instead of putting everything out in large quantities and looking completely unaware of what season it is, stores slowly but surely start adding holiday goodies to their shelves and allow it to “creep” into our shopping experience.

As you probably expected, this trend has to do with competition

Shoppers crowd the floor at Macy's the day after Thanksgiving November

Shoppers pack retailers across the country. | Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

“The primary reason for stalking the shelves and decking the halls months in advance is because of strategic marketing,” Heritage Herald explained in an article in 2016. Since stores make most of their money during the cold holiday season, they try extending that success earlier into the year in an effort to cash in for a longer period of time.

But that’s not all. Competition with competitors has also aided in this trend taking place earlier and earlier every year. “Since many shoppers go store to store to compare prices, retailers have to introduce the idea that they carry holiday merchandise early,” the article continues. “With this idea set in their consumer’s minds, their shoppers know which stores have what, making it more likely for a purchase to be made.”

How some retailers are fighting back

woman holding shopping bags

Woman holding shopping bags | Kikovic/iStock/Getty Images

As it turns out, not every retailer is a fan of the Christmas Creep. And they’re trying to give their consumers a bit of a break before the hysteria of holiday shopping settles in.

In 2017, Target responded to customer feedback and announced it wouldn’t display Christmas signage at the front of its stores until after Thanksgiving. Instead of ignoring shoppers’ pleas to stop shoving holiday shopping down their throats, the retailer’s chief marketing officer said the stores would “pause, and be really intentional and recognize Thanksgiving.”

It remains to be seen if Target will follow this practice in the coming years, or if other retailers will follow suit in an effort to please its customers. At least we know there could be some kind of resistance brewing against those who think it’s okay to put ornaments on store shelves before fall pumpkins even get a chance to shine.

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