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Why Retailers Should Display Christmas Before Halloween

holiday walletIt’s that time of the year …

Time for the leaves to change

Corn mazes to sprout up

Pumpkin spice latte demand so strong Starbucks has shortages

and the perennial favorite of writers everywhere…

“I can’t believe they already have Christmas stuff out and its not even Halloween.”


Oh, excuse me, I suppose I should be in the camp talking about “the good old days” when Ralphie and Flick would admire the merchandise retailers had put in the shop windows during the annual Christmas parade at Higbees.

Wax on about when parents only purchased gifts for the kids during the Christmas season. (That hasn’t happened in a generation – at least.)

Or maybe I should extol Nordstrom again because they won’t put up decorations until Thanksgiving Day.

Sorry, there is one basic reason all retailers should do this. Wallets.

Most people have a mental budget of what they will spend for the holidays; for decorations, for gifts for the family, for the teachers/coaches, for the office – the works.

The sooner those customers have spent money earmarked for holiday purchases, the less they will spend when it comes the traditional time to think about buying holiday gifts.

And that’s the opportunity for all retailers to put out their holiday merchandise now.

This isn’t something new but it is something smaller retailers have resisted and I suggest they get on board.

There’s a reason Target and Walmart started  their holiday layaway plans early – they know Millennials.  That generation is closer to my grandparents with their thriftiness. They know how to make their money go a long way and budget it accordingly.

When Apple announces their smaller iPad next week, it will take a huge amount out of moms and dad’s holiday budgets. And what will be left for some retailers will be much smaller.

The big boxes did it originally because they got rid of distribution centers and delivered the holiday merchandise that came over on the boat directly to stores. Without stockrooms, whatever sold was a bonus.

With less staff, it can take longer to get the merchandise out onto the floor.

And let’s face it Halloween doesn’t have the breadth of merchandise across all categories like Christmas and holiday merchandise does.

So, if you are a retailer, find a way to get your holiday merchandise out there now before a competitor steals your customer and gets them to open their wallet now – leaving you with a potential lump of coal.

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Posted by Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor on October 18, 2012.

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2 Responses to “Why Retailers Should Display Christmas Before Halloween”

  1. Bob,

    I was totally bemoaning this tradition the other day at Fred Meyer’s (a Kroger store) – and the employee was less than thrilled with me. I get what you’re saying from a retailer perspective but I’m on the cusp of the Millennial generation and I can’t even think about Christmas until after T-giving.

    Are people really buying holiday gifts and decor now? I usually buy the decor stuff when it’s uber discounted after the holidays each year (how’s that for thrifty?) and make a lot of my gifts because I’m a sentimental sap.

    I love Nordy’s tradition of waiting until after T-giving to put up Christmas goods. Why? I’m sentimental and I don’t want to feel rushed through the holiday season. I want to enjoy every minute of it.

    You know I love you and normally agree with your perspective, but for this one I say, milk the moment more retailers. Let customers enjoy the holiday that is currently happening. Then give them fabulous ideas for gifts and decor that will make their life so much easier.

    Thanks so much for speaking your truth Bob and for saying what is on everyone’s mind already!
    -Heather :)