Who's Really To Blame For The Early Holiday Retail Season?

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This year, Starbucks received some considerable flack for their red holiday cups. While some consumers complained about that lack of Christmas emphasis on the cups, the majority of complaints came down to a much simpler grievance; it’s too early for Christmas.

This is a complaint we hear every year when we see stores replacing their Halloween products with Christmas ones. “Christmas is still months away! It’s too soon!” I’m sure we’ve all made the same statement at least once a year. There seems to be a perception that stores are jumping the gun on the Christmas celebration earlier and earlier every year. But is it really the stores that are to blame for the overly-long holiday season?

Canadian Business has shared a very interesting article that shifts the blame for the Christmas craze from retailers to the consumers. It’s hard to argue with that fact if you really consider it. Stores aren’t pushing Christmas on us early so they can get an extra-long busy season, they’re just meeting the demand of the consumers who are overly eager to get in the holiday spirit. Canadian Business pulls out a few statistics that are pretty telling; over one third of Americans will have started their Christmas shopping before the end of September, 43% by mid-October. Those numbers are nearly double what they were last year at the same time. And I’m afraid we can’t pass the blame to American consumers, as Canadian’s are pressuring retailers just as much for Christmas to begin.

But surely this is a new phenomenon which has come about in today’s overly commercial society. The retailers are marketing earlier and earlier.

“If this sort of thing goes, children will get tired of Father Christmas long before Christmas comes.” That quotes comes from an article in Saskatoon Star-Phoenix written in 1954. That fear of an oversaturation of Christmas imagery has so far been unfounded.

And yet, with the stores following the consumer demand, they’re still in a bit of a lose-lose scenario this time of year. Yes, retailers get a nice holiday bump in sales, but there’s increasing damage being done to retailers’ public perception that their commercializing Christmas. Especially in Canada, stores are getting increasing pressure to hold off on Christmas until after Remembrance Day. While it’s easy to place blame on the “greedy businesses”, consumers have to take responsibility for themselves. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get an early jump on Christmas shopping or just getting excited about the holidays, but you can’t blame retailers for knowing what you want even when you’re saying the opposite.