Stores Know You Don't Like Christmas Marketing In October, But Don't Care

A “Christmas Creep” article in the New York Times gathered a bunch of quotes from retailers explaining why they feel the need to start marketing Christmas two holidays in advance. The verdict? They seem to know it irritates you, but they don’t really care.

Walmart won’t start Holiday marketing until Halloween, but are “not embarrassed at having rollbacks available now for shoppers. We know many like to plan ahead and spread the cost of Christmas,” according to their spokesperson.

Toys ‘R Us who recently opened a “pop up holiday store” in Manhattan causing us to scream in frustration, said: “It’s understated.” “Everyone can use a little Christmas right now, after a summer of toy recalls,” Ms. Waugh said. “It’s time to remember what toys are all about.”

L.L. Bean is running an ad with red and green but no explicit Christmas references. They call it, “a little toned down.” When asked if L.L. Bean worries about irritating shoppers, their spokesperson confessed: “It’s safe to say there is always anxiety,” she said. The ad “serves the marketing purpose. It gets people thinking that the holiday is coming.”

Does “Christmas Creep” bug you? Take a photo and submit it to our Flickr pool, like vidaarctique did. The best photos will be collected and featured on Consumerist. Be sure to tag your photos “Christmas Creep.”


Stealthily, Stores Start Christmas in October
[NYT via CBS News]
(Photo:vidaarctique)

Comments

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  1. Falconfire says:

    bugs the living hell out of me… to the point I REFUSE to go to stores when they pull this crap.

    I love christmas, one of my favorite holidays, but I also love Halloween, and thanksgiving, and when I see Halloween stuff being pulled down before October 15th for CHRSITMAS stuff… makes me want to wrap light strings around stock boys and choke them to death!

  2. SVreader says:

    I love the photo. The poor skeleton is tired of Christmas already.

    I guess what really bugs me about the early marketing of Christmas is that it’s exactly that: marketing. It seems to me that it says a lot about our society that Christmas is about corporations sucking up as many profits as they can.

    “It’s time to remember what toys are all about.” Sigh.

  3. boandmichele says:

    i am a bit odd about christmas. i love it, and the season itself.

    in fact,

    i like christmas so much, that i hate references to it before halloween. dont dilute my holiday season, dammit.

  4. DjDynasty says:

    I’d pay money to see stockboys choked with light strands

  5. Xerloq says:

    I flip-flop between hating it and not caring. I mostly don’t care, though, because I – like most males 18-35 – ignore any advertisements that aren’t related to what I’m looking for.

  6. JKinNYC says:

    Just be glad you aren’t in Europe. They obviously don’t do Thanksgiving, and even Halloween isn’t a big deal, so Christmas starts there after Armistice Day.

  7. JKinNYC says:

    @boandmichele: Before Halloween?? It shouldn’t show up until Thanksgiving.

  8. Geekybiker says:

    God I hate Christmas creep. Halloween is my limit. I dont want to see, hear, or think about Christmas until Im done with my quasi satanic holiday. ;)

  9. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    When I worked at a large retail craft store, we were required to have our ordering done for Christmas prior to the previous Christmas.

    Of course crafters need some lead time; it can take weeks to knit a sweater or hand-make all the gifts for the family. The craft store Christmas season really starts around July and ends around the second week of December.

  10. rixatrix says:

    The part about people wanting to spread Christmas over several paychecks – yes, but we can do that without blatant over-the-top marketing ploys. If I want to start buying gifts now, I can. And buying cheesy snowman decorations can wait until after Thanksgiving, just like the tree.

    You know what happens when you carve your Halloween pumpkin too early? It rots before Halloween.

    They’re rotting Christmas.

  11. warf0x0r says:

    Xmas creep does bug me, but I wont do anything about it unless I hear Xmas music, then I’m out the door!

  12. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    Hallmark began putting out their “Collectible Ornaments” in JULY! I remember because I went to get a card for a wedding gift and the store people were busy clearing shelves for the collection.

  13. B says:

    To be honest, I don’t really care when the christmas decorations go up. I don’t mind if the salespeople wish me merry christmas or happy holidays, I just could do without the christmas muzak.

  14. Bloberry says:

    I prefer to call it, “Christmas Crap”.

    As far as I’m concerned, preparations for Christmas should involve a week at most. If you need to do more than that, you’ve blown the whole thing out of proportion and you’re contributing to the problem.

  15. toddkravos says:

    I nearly lost my shit at Costco a few weeks back.

    When standing in line (which takes an eon all by itself), the x-mas displays were in full effect. What was worse? the songs that were BLASTING out of the various products x-mas themed products

    I don’t need that in December let alone AT THE END OF SEPTEMBER!

  16. Murph1908 says:

    My birthday is Nov 25, as was my dad’s. Thanksgiving has always been a special holiday for me.

    But it has all but been swallowed by Christmas, and it’s only getting worse.

  17. Saboth says:

    Yup, this bugs me. Halloween is the best Holiday of the year imo, with the most variance, movies, tv shows, sexy/scary costumes, and there I am…in Kroger, and 20% of their holiday section has snowmen, Santas and the rest is Halloween stuff. Lame.

  18. liquisoft says:

    It bugs a lot of people, but they still end up buying the stuff. I’ve been at Target during October in previous years, and had my wife complain about all the christmas stuff, only to then say “oooh look at this ornament.” It attracts people and moves merchandise.

  19. rubberpants says:

    “It’s time to remember what toys are all about.”

    That has got the be the most profound example of everything that’s wrong with the commercialization of Christmas. I’m just floored.

  20. foghat81 says:

    My local Lowes has a full Christmas setup, Very weird when it’s in the upper 80s and they still have the lawnmowers & grills out!

    [in NE ohio]

  21. Ausoleil says:

    “They know customers don’t like it but don’t care.” If that doesn’t say everything about current mass merchandising, nothing else possibly could.

  22. Every now and then I like to give in to my irritation that they play Xmas carols BEFORE XMAS. No, dumbasses, during Advent we play ADVENT music. You don’t get to use CHRISTMAS music until Dec. 25 (and then technically the season runs until Feb. 2). Decorations aren’t supposed to go up until the 25th either; before that we use ADVENT decorations.

    Obviously I am fully aware that this is a pipe dream, but I have a masters in liturgy, dammit, and I’m going to enjoy my self-righteous liturgical irritation now and then.

    I just find it so odd, though, that secularly we start celebrating “Christmas” two months in advance and then it’s OVER on the day of, when as a religious season it isn’t supposed to start until the day OF, and then last for two months AFTER.

    What I do do, though, is leave my Xmas lights all up until February 2. Me and the Pope, man. Me and the Pope.

  23. thewriteguy says:

    The nightmare before Christmas

  24. Mary says:

    I’m really fine until they roll out the Christmas music. I swear I read about a study that Christmas music makes shoppers more irritated and likely to lash out at other shoppers and employees.

    And yet you hear it in July these days. Thank goodness I’m not in retail this year.

  25. Anonymous says:

    It is not just XMas. In late July I saw snow throwers at a local Sears, but patio furniture was gone. In August I could not find bathing trunks locally — I had to buy them online.

    How many people in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere want to buy a snow thrower in July?

  26. minneapolisite says:

    For over 100 years, Nordstrom has introduced its Christmas decor the night after Thanksgiving. Thank you Nordstrom, for rocking. (Here’s an article from 2000 regarding the tradition, in cas…)

  27. FishingCrue says:

    At my Target they took down the summer / outdoor / bbq section a few weeks ago to make way for hallochristmas. I guess they don’t realize that in South Florida the only time we can use outdoor furniture and bbq grills are during the winter!!!

  28. twothirds says:

    Heh. I snapped a few picts at Lowes last night. They have music and everything!

    [mobile.twothirds.org]

  29. alicetheowl says:

    @boandmichele: I’m with you. The Christmas shopping season starts on Black Friday. While I may buy things before then, if I see ANY reference to Christmas before then, I get resentful and angry, and I’ve started loudly announcing WHY I’m leaving stores without buying anything.

    Yeah, it’s obnoxious, but how else will they notice?

    @meiran: I thank my good luck that I wound up working for a place that has less tolerance for Christmas music than I do. They play it for a few hours each day in the week or two leading up to the holiday, but otherwise, we pipe in some soft jazz, classical . . . anything that isn’t Christmas music.

  30. UpsetPanda says:

    “It gets people thinking that the holiday is coming.” What? Surely, Christmas can’t be in December AGAIN this year? I thought it moved to February every other year, I’m so glad LL Bean decided that I needed to know when Christmas was every freakin year.

    I love Christmas, love the spirit of it, but I’m starting to really hate the creep. It was worse enough when it popped up before Thanksgiving, at least then they waited until after Halloween. Now I’m seeing giant Christmas trees for sale at Macy’s, and we haven’t even come close to Halloween yet.

    I think it takes a lot away from Thanksgiving, and the importance of it. But stores don’t benefit from Thanksgiving – most people don’t give gifts.

  31. dazette says:

    While many, especially in government and school administration, are recently and actively seeking to lessen the physical and visual aspects of Christmas (no decorated trees, no caroling, saying “happy holidays” and renaming Christmas Vacation as “winter holiday”)—mercantile establishments and marketers are going in exactly the opposite direction. Christmas in September. Buy now. Get in the spirit. Celebrate!!!! It is cognative dissonance to the nth degree and I hate it.

  32. SadSam says:

    This past year, my husband and I had the greatest Christmas ever. What did we do?? No gifts for adults (we sent a small care package of consumable items instead), gifts for kids (a total of 4), charitable donations for work friends, no tree, no decorations and we went out for Thai food on Christmas. It was awesome!! The only downside was we caught slack from husband’s mom.

  33. scoopy says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: “Every now and then I like to give in to my irritation that they play Xmas carols BEFORE XMAS. No, dumbasses, during Advent we play ADVENT music. You don’t get to use CHRISTMAS music until Dec. 25 (and then technically the season runs until Feb. 2). Decorations aren’t supposed to go up until the 25th either; before that we use ADVENT decorations.
    Obviously I am fully aware that this is a pipe dream, but I have a masters in liturgy, dammit, and I’m going to enjoy my self-righteous liturgical irritation now and then.”

    You’re an idiot. It’s like English majors always looking for a way to nitpick grammar. Enjoy your advent music, goon.

    And what did you learn about using “dammit” in your Liturgy class?

  34. scoopy says:

    @SadSam: Sorry but “gifts” that are “donations made in your name” are not gifts at all. The giver gets to feel righteous, but the reciever just ends up scratching thier head. Why not just make a donation to charity and shut up? Don’t try to get double credit for one donation.

  35. Eilonwynn says:

    I wonder how many people still do their xmas shopping on christmas eve, despite all the hype?

    @eslaydog: I think that depends very much on the person recieving the gift – i love it when people make donations instead of giving me “stuff” i neither want nor need, especially when they really have no clue about me. This year my mother made 8 quilts and donated them to a charity rather than give anything to her self-absorbed sisters.

  36. scoopy says:

    Isn’t Christmas Creep that guy that plays Santa at the 99cent Store?

  37. Starfury says:

    I have disliked Christmas marketing for many MANY years…since I was a teenager. The creep of Christmas stuff in the stores already bugs me in a way that cannot be described. I see it as there are three holidays that happen at the end of the year.

    1. Halloween. I semi-enjoy this because I like to eat candy and some of the kids that come to the door have some good costumes. My kids also enjoy the dressing up part of it.

    2. Thanksgiving: Turkey. Stuffing. Mashed Potatoes. Gravy…lots of gravy. A day to cook and then relax in front of the TV with family.

    2a. Day AFTER Thanksgiving: Christmas season begins

    3. Christmas. Another too much food holiday. Gifts and candy.

    Overall it’s getting to the point that I no longer want to give/get any gifts except for my wife and kids. Send me a card and I’ll be happy.

  38. bohemian says:

    I was at Lowes buying paint last week. They already had the garden stuff gone and full of holiday crap. It was 90 degrees and I still need mulch and compost to augment the garden that is currently still putting out tomatoes.

    I was in Michaels and a few other stores today and Halloween stuff is already on clearance. Michaels was really a mess and the xmas and Halloween were intermixed, that was sort of bizarre.

    I didn’t hear holiday music playing yet but that will put me over the edge. I can’t stand holiday music in the stores and certainly not this early. Honestly when they really crank up the Christmas stuff in the stores I only go shopping for things we absolutely need like toilet paper and groceries
    because I find it annoying.

    The new strategy seems to be to put out merchandise prematurely and then remove it or have already put it on clearance BEFORE the peak time you would want it. Like Halloween already being on clearance or not being able to find a swimsuit in August. Stores are trying to create demand by purposely running out of things when people actually need them. They want people to panic and feel uneasy about all their purchases out of fear there won’t be any left. That nightmare swimsuit purchase is supposed to make you anxious about back to school purchases, and on and on.

    There is one thing all of this forced holiday crap is going to spur me to purchase. A cheap MP3 player so I don’t have to listen to holiday music just to go buy basic things I need.

  39. tdogg241 says:

    I actually don’t mind “Christmas Creep” for the sole reason that it makes ignoring Christmas much easier. I don’t think there’s a single holiday in the entire world that’s been bastardized more than Christmas.

    The thing that really gets me is that when I share my opinions on the shallowness of what the holidays have become (which is always because someone asks “What!? You don’t celebrate Christmas!? What are you, Jewish?” (for the record, I’m not)), I’m accused of being a “Grinch” or some other BS.

  40. mthrndr says:

    In the 80’s “Christmas in July” was big where I lived and a majority of the stores didn’t bother taking down the decorations until January.

  41. magic8ball says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: I’m adopting self-righteous liturgical irritation as my new hobby. That kinda made my day.

  42. @bohemian: “I was in Michaels and a few other stores today and Halloween stuff is already on clearance.”

    To be fair to Michael’s, craft stores have to turn stuff over much earlier, because crafters need a lead time before the holiday and are generally done buying stuff for upcoming holiday X a month before it arrives.

    @magic8ball: We’ll have a club. ;) When we’re done being annoyed about Xmas, we can be irate about Mardi Gras parties on Ash Wednesday!

  43. Narockstar says:

    I hate Christmas and I think “Christmas Creep” is the cause. I really hate how it takes away from Thanksgiving, which is a holiday that I LOVE because they haven’t found a way to market it into the ground.

  44. SadSam says:

    @eslaydog:

    I would generally agree, and love that Seinfeld episode, but I give to the charity that my work friends support not to my own favorite charity (although I give to that as well).

  45. hubris says:

    @eslaydog: Way to be a huge dick. Bravo.

    I wish Christmas would go away. Just totally. Have some other holiday that’s just about spending time with people rather than getting as much loot as humanly possible. But I guess Christians need a second holiday that can be all theirs so they can hold the line against pagans (irony with Christmas notwithstanding).

  46. KingPsyz says:

    I wished you guys had posted this in July when the Ross near me already had their Halloween crap out and even a scattered Christmas decoration and got cussed out by several customers walking in.

  47. magus_melchior says:

    @Falconfire: Better to choke the ones up higher, like the manager who told the replaceable stockboy to take down the Halloween decorations too early. Or the idiot in marketing who made that move corporate policy.

  48. scarletvirtue says:

    @eslaydog: What about someone that specifically asks for donations to be made to organizations of their choice, instead of getting presents?

    Or is that just the gift-giver being self-righteous?

  49. Saboth says:

    @SadSam:

    I’ve always wanted to grill steaks for Xmas. Screw turkey and ham.

  50. TehRev says:

    I’m cool with it. it means I could pick up a bunch of led xmas lights unlike last year when they were sold out instantly all over town. Now I have enough to last me forever.

  51. TehRev says:

    that and I go out of my way to ignore advertising so other than the small xmas section at target that was popping up I haven’t noticed.

  52. scoopy says:

    @scarletvirtue: Sure, that would be fine. I will accept that as a reasonable solution.

  53. beccamanns_theotherwhitemeat says:

    if i start seeing arbor day stuff 3 months early, i’m going to pop a cap in someone’s ass

  54. jnrmrtn says:

    Our local costco started putting out the xmas lighting in August. It’s annoying.

  55. sassypizzazz says:

    Sorry, guys. I guess I’m the exception to the anti-Christmas Creep rule. Last Friday, my husband and I trolled the Halloween/Christmas section at our local Target. I love looking at all of the decorations and lights; it seems that the best-looking items are all gone by November. We ended up browsing the toy and electronic sections to get ideas for gifts for the family. We didn’t buy anything, though. We generally do all of our Christmas shopping online.

    So, maybe that’s why I don’t mind the Christmas Creep. I avoid the mall and department stores from November on and the only shopping I do at Wal-Mart is for groceries. I purposely don’t allow myself to get over-exposed to Christmas marketing. I refuse to let anything ruin my holiday joy!

    By the way, I totally agree with the other posters about Thanksgiving. It’s Christmas, without all the extra stress of gifts! And, I really love cooking and baking for my family. I’d rather get thanks from the nieces and nephews for my pumpkin pie than for a gift they’ll forget about in a few weeks. Good pumpkin pie memories last forever.

  56. etinterrapax says:

    I loathe it. I don’t want to see an iota of Christmas marketing until the day after Thanksgiving. BJ’s had Christmas music playing when I was in there a couple of weeks ago.

    Then again, I’m down to half consumable/handmade gifts, and 100% not shopping in stores (catalog and internet only; I hate crowds) for Christmas, and I’m going to pull away from it even more in years to come. No Black Friday doorbuster is going to change my mind about it; none. I need Christmas to mean something beyond shopping.

  57. Anonymous says:

    They know we don’t like Christmas advertising in October but they still do it. I know they don’t like it when i play around with their displays, but i still do it. We’re even.

  58. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @eslaydog:
    You’re an idiot. It’s like English majors always looking for a way to nitpick grammar. Enjoy your advent music, goon.

    This is the second time today that I’ve had to warn you about abusing other commenters. Cut it out.

  59. SaraAB87 says:

    I guess I am with the I really don’t care people, because any popular gift or toy that needs to be bought during christmas is purchased online and then shipped to our house. No battling with the crazy crowds of people loading up their carts with toys and taking up all the space in the aisles, plus most every toy is cheaper online especially if you order with amazon who has free shipping, its been an amazon christmas for at least 4 holiday seasons in our household. The retail store selection here is extremely limited especially for toys, and most likely they don’t have the exact item that they ask for in stock when you go to buy it, so ordering online is a must for us.

    We don’t buy decorations since we reuse the same decorations year after year, and usually there is enough wrapping paper left over from last year’s 50% off end of christmas sale that we only have to buy christmas supplies every 2 years. Its getting better now that the grandchildren are getting older too, less toys to buy and more useful gifts to buy.

    I am an ebay seller and the best part about christmas for me is that I work extra hard to get tons of stuff sold on ebay and sales go through the roof compared to other times of the year, last year I made over 1k in household junk alone!

  60. lestat730 says:

    I absolutely DREAD Xmas. Yes, some call me the grinch but I could do without the stress, family get togethers, awful music, traffic, shopping, and religious undertones. I’m seriously thinking about going on vacation and skipping the whole thing. To me Xmas is an annoyance, no offense to anyone who likes it though.

  61. ElizabethD says:

    All right, I’m a dork. I uploaded my pic to Flickr but don’t know how to get it to the Consumerist pool. ???

  62. scarletvirtue says:

    @beccamanns_theotherwhitemeat: That comment is hilarious – I don’t know when Arbor Day is, so perhaps I should find out and get ready to spork anyone that does it!

  63. CoffeeAddict says:

    I don’t celebrate any of the holidays that most department stores like to shove down my throat. I do find it annoying that they start so early in the year for every holiday. I wish they would call the holidays for what they really are GREED. The world needs to just live peacefully and get by on what we have and not expect people to just give us things because we are greedy little mongrels.

  64. SkyeBlue says:

    One half of our family does NOT celebrate Christmas because they consider it a holiday that comes form Pagan origins and the other half celebrates it because they DO consider it a religious holiday!

    I’m just wondering tho what the phony “shortage” is going to be on that favorite “hard to find item” that will have parents all over the country getting into fistfights in they toy aisles so they can get little Timmy or Suzy that special gift that will show them the true meaning of Christmas?

  65. Mr. Gunn says:

    toddkravos: Sam’s Club had that going too. Fucking bastards, all of them. I remember when they had the decency to wait until after Thanksgiving.

  66. yahonza says:

    I’ll say it again, there is no Christmas Creep.
    Christmas marketing has always followed the same pattern, a trickle here and there through September and October, followed by a flood after Halloween. Every year as far back as I can remember (that would be the 70s, I am old).

    Also, if this is an issue that really bothers you, you must have a pretty sweet life.

  67. bookling says:

    You know, I work in a large retail store, and I hate that we have all our Christmas cards out and on sale already as much as the rest of you. But the company wouldn’t do it if people didn’t buy it. Everyone walks by the card display and groans, but they turn around and buy some.

    Sure, it’s disgusting corporate greed, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from working retail, it’s that you can put anything on display and on sale, and people will buy it. That’s why “Christmas Creep” is so prevalent: it works.

  68. Charmander says:

    I work at a retail store a few nights a week. My store had Christmas lights & Christmas trees out on display in the middle of SEPTEMBER. It’s really disgusting when they start putting that crap out before they have even unpacked and set up up all the Halloween decorations.

    Also, I visited my local Macy’s a week ago. Guess what? Their holiday shop is already open for business. That would have been October 2nd.

    As for Yahonza’s comment that there is no Christmas Creep, get real! What store had Christmas stuff out in September in the 70s?

  69. Trai_Dep says:

    Die, Santa, DIE!

    That is all.

  70. MrEvil says:

    What I hate about Christmas more than anything is being stuck in traffic for 30 minutes to drive ONE MILE because people absolutely must make eighty trips to the mall between Black Friday and December 24th. I did the whole Black Friday thing at Best Buy twice, once as a customer, and another as an employee. Now I drive by Best Buy on Thanksgiving and look at the retards that are willing to sit out in the cold for 12+ hours waiting for cheap crap they don’t need.

    I’m fed up with the commercialization of Christmas too. To the point where I wish December the 25th was just another cold day.

  71. hawk205 says:

    I’m trying to convince my kids that that guy in the red suit with fur trim is actually FOURTH OF JULY MAN. they’re not buying it though

  72. boandmichele says:

    @JKinNYC: i disagree. i love the holiday season, and our tree goes up the first week of november.

  73. VidaLondres says:

    Thanks so much for using my photo! That was such an exciting surprise to see so many new views in my Flickr.

    We wound up inside the House of Wal yesterday and snagged a doozie of a Christmas photo. I think it has more to do with the insipidities of Wal*Mart than real honest Christmas creep. I do have to give them props for isolating the Christmas display to a single row of shelves shoved near the back, but it doesn’t really forgive their attempt to insert themselves as part of the small-town-antique-Christmas Village. Behold:

    [www.flickr.com]

  74. Dr.Ph0bius says:

    Didnt we all predict this?

    Years back when Christmas “started” right before december, we said “not long now and it will all be up by thanksgiving.”

    Then it was and we said it wouldnt be long until it would be pre-thanksgiving.

    It was, and we laughed and said “Wow, next thing you know it will be up as they take the halloween stuff down!”

    Bingo.

    Now we’re seeing christmas stuff in the first/second week of october!?!?

    I could care less, and dont see it as something to get emotional about, but I am very interested to see how much farther back they can push this thing!

    Im thinking a REAL Christmas in July!