Retailers are starting the holidays even earlier this year

Anxious to boost sales in a bad economy, retailers push holidays earlier.

Sept. 12, 2011— -- Santa's becoming a September fixture.

In an economy in which consumers will do almost anything to save a buck and retailers will do almost anything to make a buck, it's common for stores to roll out holiday goods this month.

Christmas merchandise has been at Costco stores since Sept. 1 and will begin showing up on some Home Depot shelves Sept. 19. Kmart and Sears will begin selling Christmas trimmings Sept. 25. And Walmart and J.C. Penney will start selling Christmas merchandise before month's end.

"Retailers are putting out a little bit of holiday stuff earlier each year," says Mike Gatti of the National Retail Federation's marketing division. "They know a substantial number of consumers will pick out Christmas tree ornaments even as they're picking out Halloween pumpkins."

More than 37% of shoppers — and 42% of women — plan to do some holiday shopping by Halloween, reports an NRF consumer survey. Retailers are happy to oblige as they chase the estimated $450 billion of holiday spending.

That's why some retailers:

•Began Christmas already. JoAnn Fabric has had holiday fabrics on its shelves since July, and A.C. Moore has had them since August.

•Start in September. "Historically, we are in seasons early and out early," says Richard Galanti, Costco's chief financial officer.

After rolling out Christmas merchandise in mid-October the past few years, this year Walmart will start in late September, spokeswoman Tara Raddohl says.

Customers want early holiday merchandise to space out holiday purchases, Home Depot spokeswoman Jen King says.

•Kick off Christmas in October. Everything from outdoor holiday inflatables to Christmas lights will hit shelves at Lowe's stores Oct. 1, spokeswoman Colleen Maiura says.

Nordstrom is bucking the trend. "It's been our long-standing tradition to not decorate our stores for the holidays until after Thanksgiving," spokeswoman Pamela Lopez says. "We believe in celebrating one holiday at a time."