We’ve all experienced that moment: It’s a sweltering afternoon in early September as you head to Costco to pick up your 30-count pack of paper towels and 6-gallon jugs of mayonnaise. As you weave your cart through the impossibly crowded aisles, you suddenly look up and see it:
It takes a minute for your brain to register that these are Christmas decorations. You slowly come to the realization that it’s not even Halloween yet, then you black out from rage, and the next thing you know you are sitting on your couch eating straight from a trash can-size bucket of pickles and crying at the relentless march of time.
OK, so that might be dramatic, but every single year you can count on two things:
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- Christmas decorations will begin their invasion as early as August.
- People will complain about it on social media.
While I am focusing on Christmas for the purposes of this article, I would be remiss to ignore the fact that Halloween items pop up midsummer, and so-called “Black Friday” deals are now offered throughout the entire month of November. No holiday is truly safe.
And yet, despite the seemingly large outcry from shoppers who prefer to focus on one holiday at a time, this pattern is not reversing itself. Why?
The answer? Because it works. “Christmas creep,” as it is referred to in marketing circles, exists because retailers have discovered that consumers tend to begin their holiday shopping as early as Labor Day.
Yes, folks, the call is coming from inside the house.
Since the Great Recession, consumers have been especially careful about budgeting, which means they are more likely to purchase holiday gifts far enough in advance to prevent their accounts from being drained come December. Retailers are just trying to grab a slice of the pie before their competition.
Not only are we, the consumers, mostly responsible for The Creep, we are also slowly becoming more inured to it. Seventy-one percent of consumers claimed to be “very annoyed” by pre-Halloween Christmas decorations popping up in 2014. That number dropped to 63 percent in 2015.
Unfortunately for those driven to madness by the early appearance of holiday decor in stores, it appears as though the trend is here to stay. So take a deep breath, walk into Target with your head held high and maybe score a screaming deal on an inflatable Santa lawn ornament. Or just do what an ever-increasing number of consumers are doing every year and shop online at Amazon, Overstock, etc., where things like Christmas promos in summer don’t happen. At least not yet.