Imagine you are walking through a department store and you turn the corner to see a huge Christmas tree. You see all of the ornaments and the twinkling lights. If you listen closely, you can hear high- pitched Mariah Carey riffs and jingle bells in the background. You begin to feel excited about the winter months and start thinking about the holidays. Then you remember that is only the first few weeks of November. How does that make you feel?
Stores seem to be putting up winter holiday and Christmas decorations up earlier and earlier each year, some even before the fall holidays –Halloween and Thanksgiving—have even begun. This elicits different emotional responses from consumers, while still generating desired revenue for these companies.
The socially acceptable time to put up holiday decorations used to be directly after Thanksgiving. It was then pushed forward to a few weeks before Thanksgiving, then to the beginning of October. This year, K-mart led the Christmas season by releasing its holiday layaway commercial on Sept. 5. Walmart, Target and Costco all put up holiday decorations in the following weeks of September.
These festive winter decorations have stirred a wide range of emotions in people. Some people like to see the Christmas decorations up as early as possible; they love the holidays and want to experience them for as long as they can. But most people do not have as fond of an outlook on this matter.
Many people are upset when stores decorate months before the actual holiday because it does not allow proper celebration of the other fall holidays. This year, many stores started decorating for Christmas before Halloween. The different holidays are fighting for attention. One person was so upset with early holiday decorations that they created a website entitled xmasb4halloween.com, where people from all around the U.S. could post pictures of these conflicting decorations.
Others feel that the holiday season is special and should only be celebrated for a short time. If Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is You” has been playing since September, it is not as special on Christmas day. These people feel that pushing the holiday agenda months in advance takes away from the sanctity of the holidays.
The companies who decorate three months before the holidays are not decorating for fun; it is a deliberate marketing ploy to get consumers to buy more decorations. Fortunately for these companies, they are still making major sales no matter how their customer base receives these early decorations. A survey conducted by the National Retail Federation discovered that 41 percent of Americans begin holiday shopping before Halloween. This means that nearly half of the American population is buying into this strategy, proving the companies right in decorating early. This phenomenon also affects online shopping. According to Internet Retailer, over 50 percent of online shoppers begin their holiday shopping in mid-October.
People seem more inclined to start buying once Christmas decorations are on display. These companies are using the season of giving to pressure consumers into buying. The friendly Santa in every store is a constant reminder to buy for the holidays. All of these Christmas decorations are placed with an ulterior motive: to sell as much as possible for the holiday season. No matter how you feel about these stores manipulating the holidays by putting decorations on sale early to turn a quick buck, it’s working.