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Why Retailers Are Pushing Christmas in September

Blame the economy for the early yuletide sightings.

Credit: Instagram user amythegreat86
Credit: Instagram user amythegreat86
Shopping for school supplies weeks ago, I turned down an aisle at Costco Wholesale and, to my horror, came face to face with a Christmas tree. My first instinct was to cover my children’s eyes. Too late. My youngest pounced: “Mommy, is it almost Christmas? Can we buy that big Santa?” It wasn’t even Labor Day yet.

Costco rolled out Christmas right on schedule this year: weeks before the leaves had changed. So did Kmart and other big retailers. If you check out the hashtag #toosoon on Instagram, you'll see plenty of store displays like the one above.

The reasons are logical enough: Costco shoppers, accustomed to buying everything in bulk, like to be prepared. And Kmart knows that buyers in a rough economy will start thinking about layaway earlier than usual. Christmas shopping season is to retailers what sequels are to Hollywood: an easy, safe way to gin up interest.

Costco was designed for medium to small businesses to help reduce costs, but individuals (like me) who do not qualify for business membership can obtain “gold star” access and shop away. For the small businesses, it makes sense to offer stock early. Customers buying for resale in their own stores will have to plan for the holiday rush.

I called Costco’s headquarters in Issaquah, WA to ask if shoppers really wanted to buy a nine-foot faux Christmas tree in August? They didn’t respond, but a closer source, my daughter, answered an emphatic “Yes.”

I saw plenty of other children in Costco that late summer day begging for some Christmas in their carts. And although I did manage to veto pleas for any yuletide items bigger than my head, in the end we bought a string of 700 LED Christmas lights.

Do you have an averse reaction to stores that promote Christmas months ahead of time? Tell us why in a comment or blog post.
Cheryl September 29, 2013 at 08:42 PM
With the Sequester and the Republicans shutting down the government and trying to take away everything from our jobs to our Social Security, times are more than tight ... and I think it's going to be a very "lean" Christmas for all of the 99% of Americans. I don't think that many people will know for several months what and IF they can afford this Christmas.
Me September 29, 2013 at 10:12 PM
Give me a break. It has nothing to do with republicans. Retailers have always started Christmas sales early. This is nothing new. Keep politics out of the conversation.
harry September 30, 2013 at 07:39 AM
hey---is everything still the fault of bush and the repubs? our fearless leader is in year number five.... his economic plans and stimulas has driven us halfway down the mountain.. his o care was the final push to the bottom. i never thought i would live to see any president as bad as jimmy carter was. i was mistaken.

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