‘Christmas creep’ pushes consumers away from stores


“For every Christmas tree lit before thanksgiving, an elf drowns a baby reindeer,” tweeted comedian Zach Galifianakis.

While his message is brash, it’s serious: Christmas is happening far too soon and it’s everywhere. What was once carols playing softly in the department store and a lit tree here and there is now a holiday movie on every TV channel, garland and lights on anything without a pulse, and let’s not forget the psychopathy that is gift shopping.

The premature arrival of the holidays in retail stores, coined the “Christmas creep,” seems to start earlier every year.

Beginning in the early 2000s, retailers Walmart, Target and J.C. Penney followed the lead of Sam’s Club and Costco by offering Christmas products such as ornaments, giftwrap and cards to shoppers as early as September.

Kmart took a cheeky approach to starting Christmas in September with a recent commercial that danced around the subject of starting shopping early, advertising a hypothetical “merry” celebration in late December. Santa hats, nutcrackers and strings of lights were shelved next to scary masks, fake pumpkins and oversized bags of candy.

William Cody, managing director of the Baker Retailing Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, said he believes retailers begin selling holiday merchandise early to avoid selling anything on a promotion, increasing the number of full-price sales.

Not every customer is buying in to the Christmas creep, though. In a survey of 1,000 people, 71 percent felt “annoyed” or “very annoyed” to see holiday products in stores before Halloween and 42 percent said they were deterred from buying from them as a result, according to RichRelevance, a software retailer.

It wouldn’t be Christmas in the U.S. unless everyone went into debt, prompting retailers to open stores earlier for post-Thanksgiving deals. Business Insider reported sales of $12.3 billion in bricks-and-mortar store sales last Black Friday, a 2.3 percent increase from the previous year.

Consumers can expect Thanksgiving openings to be the new normal at shopping malls, with some opening as early as 8 p.m., according to CNNMoney. And who cares if workers have to cut their holiday short, because retail slaves don’t have families, right?

If the obsession with finding deals on TVs and iPads doesn’t kill Halloween and Thanksgiving in the coming years, all of the tinsel, fake snow and Michael Buble playing on every single speaker in the nation will surely put these holidays in a merry grave.