Although school now starts in August in most places, summer is usually officially ushered out the door on Labor Day weekend, the first Monday of September. It’s on this date when the Christmas season begins. Really?
Aren’t we supposed to have a few other holidays before we start decking the halls with boughs of holly? At the risk of being accused of Scrooging (a made-up verb which means to be indifferent to Christmas), many of us feel the blessed holiday season has gotten out of hand. At the very least, it’s jumped the gun by a couple of months.
Of course, those of us in the marketing and advertising trade are partially to blame for this state of affairs, as retail clients stretch the Christmas selling season in order to meet sales goals set way back in the spring.
Why is This Rush to Christmas Shopping Occurring?
In the words of the confidential source of journalists Woodward and Bernstein, the best way to understand this rush to Christmas is to “follow the money.” The sales from the holiday season can account for greater than 50 percent of a retail store’s annual volume. This puts enormous pressure on these companies to encourage customers to begin thinking of buying long before Turkey Day.
Even e-commerce has gotten the early-season memo. “Christmas is the time of year that retailers look forward to and plan for all year long,” said Jordan Weinstein, managing director, EMEA at ChannelAdvisor. “As we suspected, our survey shows that retailers are planning to begin their promotions even earlier this year, with 62 percent having started their efforts by September. This highlights how critical it is for online retailers to prepare for Christmas early, allowing time to test and fine-tune their campaigns. At such a competitive time of year, it is those who prepare well in advance that have the advantage.
The Problems With Christmas Creep
Many otherwise jovial people, folks who love to jingle bells and trim trees, have developed Extended Christmas Season Malaise. If enough people catch it, a backlash could occur. And as we all know, a backlash is definitely not good for business.
According to ABC News, when retailer K-Mart started its holiday push in September last year, the company Facebook page was aglow with angry remarks.”Shame on you Kmart for advertising Christmas this early!! I WILL NOT be shopping at Kmart,” one angry shopper vented. “Why don’t you just start this on January 1st each year! This is ridiculous,” wrote another.
As a result, this year K-Mart began airing a “Not a Christmas Commercial” TV spot, which is a veiled reference to getting a jump on seasonal shopping, but treats it humorously and with a soft touch: “We know it’s too early to be talking about Christmas. Let’s just say you have an event, at the end of the year, where everyone gets a gift.”
From a broader perspective, Christmas Creep ruins the true meaning of the holiday. It tarnishes the traditions and emphasizes consumerism. It turns into a business transaction and nobody wants to treated like a “target market,” especially at Christmas time.
Before lacing up those running shoes and setting the alarm for 4 a.m. for another pre-pre-pre-Christmas-24-hour-blowout-sale, enjoy the turning leaves, the beautiful fall weather, the kids trick-or-treating, and the feast of Thanksgiving before jumping on the Santa Express. The Christmas season will be here soon enough and we’ll enjoy it more if it’s not promoted year-round.