Those who think the commercialization of the holidays has gone too far, including seeing Christmas trees in shopping malls before Halloween, have taken action. Consumers fed up with Christmas decorations and products creeping into retail outlets earlier every year are trying to shame retailers into patience.
Led by Consumerist.com, shoppers are taking photos of Christmas decorations in stores with a cut-out “Christmas Creep” character. The photos are posted on the consumer news website in the hope of discouraging retailers from jumping on the winter holiday season bandwagon.
Consumerist has covered the topic of stores that have made the holiday season an all-year affair, but this is the first year the site has launched an official campaign.
Chris Morran, senior editor at Consumerist, said just because the site’s staff launched this campaign does not mean it does not love the holidays and shopping.
The importance of consumer spending, which comprises two-thirds of U.S. GDP, is indisputable to the American economy. Holiday activity provides about 20 percent of retailers’ annual sales every year. Though with people as jittery as they are — with October’s consumer confidence the lowest it has been since March 2009 — stores are aggressively marketing to shoppers. Retail sales increased 1.1 percent in September to $395.5 billion, the biggest gain in seven months, thanks in large part to auto sales, the Commerce Department reported earlier this month.
But Morran said seeing Christmas decorations in July or August not only cheapened and watered down the actual holiday shopping experience but also tended to override the holidays that should be getting “the proper attention.”
Morran said he had received numerous complaints from readers who hunted in the past week for Halloween decorations or costumes, only to find they had been replaced by tinsel and Christmas lights. He said many readers agreed that selling Christmas decorations in August could be “tacky,” though some have confessed to taking advantage of sale prices for the items.
“The thing that really gets under our readers’ skin is when stores, in addition to selling Christmas decorations, begin decorating their windows and aisles months ahead of the actual holiday,” Morran said, pointing out that readers had sent in hundreds of photos over the years.
The earliest “Christmas Creep” incident he could recall came when a hobby store began selling Christmas wreaths in June last year.
When asked what he thought was the “appropriate” time to display winter holiday decorations, Moran said the general consensus seemed to be that post-Halloween was an acceptable time for stores to begin selling Christmas decorations.
“But for stores’ own holiday decor, we’d hope they would wait until Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, Morran said.