A lot of people, including myself, are really getting sick of the holiday creep. Now, I’m not talking about the strange dude, who is always alone and never makes eye contact, that you see roaming the mall once a year in cut off jean shorts who seems to be stalking you – I’m talking about the start of the holiday shopping season that gets earlier and earlier each year.
I was shopping for a birthday present in early September, saw this holiday display, and was kind of horrified. When I was a kid, I remember as fall would approach the Halloween merchandise would be displayed; Halloween would arrive and the Thanksgiving décor would make an appearance; and then Christmas displays would appear as Thanksgiving would draw closer. I was fine with this progression because I absolutely loved unique feelings that each of those holidays brought. Now it seems that Halloween and Thanksgiving have been all but forgotten and Christmas is something I’ve grown to dread rather than anticipate.
I understand that the Christmas season is important for most retailers. They have shareholders to please and payroll to meet. Plus it’s not difficult to see that some retailers are simply in trouble (J.C. Penny, Kmart/Sears, and Aeropostale come to mind right now). But there has to be a more creative way to try to boost sales rather than extending the Christmas shopping season.
It seems to bet getting to the point that in my lifetime I will see one, year long, holiday shopping season. (Side thought: maybe that’s what the Christmas Tree Shops was aiming for). It’s easy to see how this could evolve too:
Holiday Back To School
One day the holiday season displays will be coupled with Back To School. I could imagine the marketing campaigns surrounding that. They’d probably simply bundle the two together and have notebooks and pens next to wrapping paper and bows.
Christmas in July
This idea is already in place, but it would take on a whole new meaning. I suppose we could think of it as a half-Christmas. You know kind of like a half birthday, which (as a Catholic) seems somewhat fitting. “Christmas in July. Get your half-Christmas stuff today!”
Easter is already a holiday, but I don’t think it has the broad shopping appeal as Christmas. I think there’s only so many eggs that you can buy for someone before they’re used as rotten projectiles on Mischief Night (ya … think about eggs rotting for 6 months in the fridge). Maybe with the general worry about obesity something may happen, like the government stepping in and declaring one sugary candy or chocolate holiday every 6 months … one for Valentines day, one for Halloween. As a result, Easter would have to be re-purposed. There’s such synergy here I could see that before long some marketer will simply tie it together to try to lift sales: “He has just risen, but don’t wait, get your shopping done now before he’s born again!”
Holiday Valentines Day
Here, I could see simply tying love with love for Christmas shopping. Christmas trees adorned with engagement rings. After all, getting engage is special. Getting engaged at Christmas time is even more special. so, just make Valentines day a little more special … by adding a Christmas Tree.
The Yearlong Christmas
Finally, stores would just have yearlong Holiday time sales rationalizing, “if Q4 is our best quarter because of the holidays, then why don’t we just leave the holiday stuff displayed and just celebrate the holidays all year long. This way every quarter could be like Q4.” Of course someone at the other end of the conference table would be like “Beautiful! I love that idea! Run with it!” Stores would then just have a holiday department. It wouldn’t be called ‘seasonal’ anymore and there wouldn’t be any lawn and garden supplies stocked there in the off season … it would need to be called “The Holiday Department.”
I have nothing against the holidays (both religious and secular aspects). I also have no problems with merchants making money either. Where I do have the problem is trying to over-exploit the emotional ties to the end of year holiday in order to do so. If stores need to have a sale to move merchandise, then have a sale. I just hope that eventually retailers stop trying to make it special by making the Holiday shopping season earlier and earlier. I am more inclined to not shop somewhere if the Christmas time stuff is out before Halloween. Personally, I don’t see it changing though I really hope I am wrong.