Confirmed: Christmas Is Creeping

The Chicago Tribune confirms that Christmas is creeping up earlier this year as skittish retailers try to stay ahead of the ever-crescendoing non-recession. Walgreens, Kohls, and Home Depot were all singled out for defying the calendar, but blame also belongs with consumers who fuel seasonal ignorance with their buying choices.

Chandra Greer, owner of a luxury paper store in Old Town, decided to jump on the Christmas creep bandwagon for the first time this year. She held a holiday sale last weekend, offering markdowns of 25 percent to 90 percent on cards, stationery and wrapping paper.

“Not only have we never had a holiday sale, we never had a sale before,” said Greer, whose store goes by her last name. “Given what’s going on in the economy, we felt a sale would be well-received.”

The promotion generated 75 percent more in dollar volume than an average day, even with the steep discounts, said Greer, who had planned to take the day off but went to the store to help clerks handle the crowd.

In these days of heady excess, we could all benefit by waiting until after Thanksgiving to kick off our holiday binge-shopping.

‘Christmas creep’ hits earlier this season [The Chicago Tribune]
(Photo: ?onne)

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  1. Kickstartheart says:

    Is it just me, or do people talk about Christmas creep hitting earlier every single year? This always seems to happen, as sure as death and taxes. Is it really hitting any earlier, or does it just feel like it?

    • SchuylerEscargot says:

      @Kickstartheart:

      Well, last year at Home Depot we put out Christmas inventory just after Halloween… this year we stocked everything out the Friday before Columbus day. So yes, I would say it’s legitimate.

  2. homerjay says:

    Back to school creep started on the 4th of July this year too…

    • Rider says:

      @homerjay:

      In certain parts of the country kids go back to school in august so I don’t really think that’s creep just a lack of regionality in national chains.

    • alysbrangwin says:

      @homerjay: There are year-round schools that start in July. They’re uncommon but they exist, especially around my area.

    • naosuke says:

      @homerjay: Back to school has been starting in July since at least 2001. I worked at Target in MN from 2001-2004 and spent several birthdays (July first) stocking the back to school sections of the store. Nothing says Happy Birthday! to a 16 year old like stocking back to school supplies.

  3. parad0x360 says:

    I can say most stores hold to getting their major Christmas stuff out right after Oct 31st, they mostly have some stuff out when they put out Halloween. Doesnt seem to be getting earlier for the most part but regardless its still too early to have anything out right now.

  4. TheHans says:

    I took a picture of the Halloween blow-up Spooky House right next to the light-up Christmas outdoor decorations at Sam’s yesterday. It was definitely strange to hear the ‘Halloween’ movie theme while seeing illuminated stars and trees. It didn’t come out very well, or I’d share.

  5. Angryrider says:

    I saw some ads even at the Post Office. Ugh…

  6. nicemarmot617 says:

    That poor cat! It looks rightfully pissed off. And somehow I doubt it’s the Christmas Creep annoying it.

  7. ablestmage says:

    I think the Christmas creep talkers are rather behind the times. A few stores here put out stuff starting in June. You’re late! Where’ve you been?

  8. Trencher93 says:

    Add K-Mart to the list, they’ve had their stuff out several weeks now. No sign of it at Sears or Wal-Mart yet. (Hope you don’t want to actually do Christmas shopping at K-mart – had to go to Wal-Mart to get my size jeans. But K-Mart had a set of Craftsman nut drivers that I didn’t see at Sears. I guess with modern computerized inventory, this shouldn’t be happening.)

  9. U-235 says:

    I actually like the Christmas creep. It reminds me to start thinking about what gifts to find people so I can buy them cheap online instead of getting reamed in the mall the week before the fat guy storms my chimney.

  10. u1itn0w2day says:

    How FREAKING pathetic that there are people who live their entire lives around ONE holiday or one day of the year.

    I mean the stuff is force fed to us year after year after year-aaaggghhh!

    But I guess this is why we’re called capitalists capitalizing on anything we possibly can.

    • @u1itn0w2day: I don’t live my life around Christmas, but I enjoy the whole season. I love decorating my house, sending out cards, watching the excitement build as the day nears, seeing how everyone is a little nicer, sitting back to watch a child/adult open their presents, etc…

      If you want to talk about a force fed “holiday”, try St. Valentines Day. There is a holiday which has slipped from it’s original purpose, and has become a vehicle for ripping money out of people’s pockets. It’s funny that in anticipation of a hurricane, we lambast companies for starting to charge more for anything, but charging 3x as much for flowers or gifts before St. Valentines Day is completely OK. /rant

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @u1itn0w2day: My family doesn’t go ape over Christmas, but I do enjoy the season, when appropriate that is, not earlier than November for me. We purchase a normal amount of gifts, and no the kids are not getting 5k of merchandise each. We don’t walk out of the store with the cart loaded down with toys just because they are there. No family we know does this in my area, not even the ones that are very well off.

      It depends on what the season means to you, just remember to step back and think about whats important, family, friends and how each person will appreciate the gift you give them. Its about how much thought you put into each gift, not how much you spend on it. There’s no reason to stop giving gifts, just remember as a kid you too waited all year for this day, children have since as far back as I can remember. You just can’t let the force feeding bother you.

  11. Was I the only one who read the title as “Christmas Cat is Creeping” at first?

  12. Fry says:

    The only good thing about the Christmas Creep is sometimes you can find Christmas food early too. Like eggnog!

  13. Outrun1986 says:

    Bon-ton is the worst here (they are a clothing store for those that don’t know), they have an ENTIRE department devoted to Xmess, and its already up and has been since the day after labor day or late august. They only have one tiny table devoted to halloween merchandise. BTW over here Christmas Creep starts around labor day, which means you are seeing Xmas stuff in early September and late August. I guess people really do buy their stuff this early, or else retailers would have no reason to put it out. I guess the earlier they put it out the longer the merchandise stays in the store which means the more people see it and the more people buy it.

    Don’t forget holiday items also have a very high profit margin for retail stores, so even a few items sold early in the season will boost sales.

    I try to avoid buying holiday merchandise in stores, and instead picking up new and different stuff for pennies or free at yard sales, people have so much of this stuff that they practically give it away. There is no reason to pay retail for Xmas decorations. Who hasn’t been to a yard sale that had Xmas stuff that was not selling? You can also get older, more unique stuff instead of the cheap 10 cent china made stuff they are trying to sell us for 10$ an item in the retail store.

  14. Bloberry says:

    I’ve grown to HATE the Christmas season over the years. I think it’s disgusting that we all go ape poop for three months every year over a holiday that was originally a small religious celebration. Now retailers try to make everyone feel as if they must spend spend spend every year in order to do things right. We can’t watch TV, listen to the radio, or go shopping without being bombarded with all this crap. I hate it!

  15. NewPerfection says:

    Add Lowe’s to the list. I work there, and about two weeks ago the Christmas displays went up. Not just a couple either. A huge display of fake Christmas trees, gaudy blow-up yard decorations, etc.

  16. Robobot says:

    Saw Christmas creep at a Costco in Maryland two weeks ago. They have their trees up for sale and everything. Yes, shoppers were looking at them.

    I like the family and togetherness aspects of Christmas, but beyond that who cares. All the decorations and presents are too friggin expensive even without the economy in this state.

  17. adam_w says:

    Why would a shop owner plan on taking the day off on the day or their first and only sale ever?

    • Lucky225 says:

      @adam_w:

      x2, the owner sounds like an idiot w/ no business sense

    • jeknee says:

      @adam_w: Boutique paper shops in Old Town Chicago don’t usually have the same volume of business you’d find in, say, Target. I can’t imagine, even with a 75% increased dollar volume, they’d have lines out the door – this is a situation where maybe two clerks were working but there were 5(!) people in the store at once!

  18. u1itn0w2day says:

    Wasn’t X-Mas toned downed in the 80s & 90s from the energy crisises of the 70s.

    Just thinK of all the energy needed to light all those bulbs and inflatable displays.Just think about all the petroleum going into all the plastics in those light cords and displays.

    Throw in the energy bills for stores open longer and people traveling more it almost seems like a colossal waste of time.

    • @u1itn0w2day: Due to the increase in LED lights, and their energy savings vs. traditional lights, I think we negate the fact. Also, since many people go for replica trees, we have less live trees being cut. As for people who use real trees, those trees are usually recycled into mulch by local towns, which locks away the carbon they store. In older times, they were burned, which released that carbon back. So I would say that currently our holidays are more eco-friendly, if I believed in eco-friendliness.

  19. VOIDMunashii says:

    I don’t think Christmas Creep is starting earlier every year, it’s just starting stronger every year.

    Already Coscto has the sets that promise to turn your house into an orchestrated light show (guaranteed to neighbors hate you), and one grocery store already has their holiday ice cream flavours in, in case you want to stock up now, I suppose.

  20. Marshfield says:

    I wonder if these sales will be accounted for properly when they report “holiday sales this year” on the news?

    Seems like they might be overlooked, I’d imagine that is only sales from Black Friday to Xmas (or do they include the day after also?)

  21. Birki says:

    @u1itn0w2day:
    Not to mention all the trash that is generated on this one day. I remember working at a Hallmark store in college and looking at all the pretty wrapping paper, paper plates, gift tags and bows in their festive displays and thinking how sad and wasteful that all of it would end up crumpled, torn and in trash bags right after Christmas. Multiply that across all stores selling the Christmas paper goods and it’s mind boggling how much gets sent to the landfills after the holidays. I’m one of those people who reuses gift bags over and over, so as to cut down a least some of the waste. But it’s a drop in a huge bucket.

  22. azntg says:

    By 2012, Christmas sales will begin in February!

  23. Onion_Volcano says:

    I love christmas so I don’t mind this stuff. Relaxes me for some reason.

  24. JW says:

    They should go ahead and start preparing for Valentine’s Day…

  25. DigitalMariner says:

    If anyone really wants the creep to stop, talk to and discourage people who purchase this stuff now. As a manager in a retail chain I feel fairly safe in stating that most stores wouldn’t waste the shelf space if the crap wasn’t selling. So prevent people from buying the stuff in September and perhaps next year it will be a little later. Organize an anti-creep boycott, make a fuss about the customers shopping the display, write letters to the editors and TV stations to try and bring negative attention to it. But stop dumping on the retailers (where the staff hates this more than you do, btw) who are just trying to feed a perceived demand and/or keep up with their competitors.

    To [poorly] rip off one of my favorite movie quotes, if you buy it, the shipments will come.

  26. timmus says:

    As a manager in a retail chain I feel fairly safe in stating that most stores wouldn’t waste the shelf space if the crap wasn’t selling.

    This doesn’t explain the pickled pigs feet that I see in stores everywhere. If I need fondue ingredients, half the time I can’t find a simple pack of baby swiss or gruyere cheese, but what if we need a jar of pigs feet? Ka-ching… the shelves are always brimming with that nasty stuff.

    [i138.photobucket.com]

  27. GuinevereRucker says:

    What a horrible way to celebrate the birth of the pivotal figure in human history – by feeling guilty if we don’t buy presents for people due to capitalistic pressure to spend! I personally hate it.

    One of the best ways to stop it, I think, is this:

    1) Don’t buy any presents for anyone on Christmas. Tell them not to expect any.

    2) Don’t accept any presents. Tell people to donate a small amount to any charity they want in your name instead!

    If you want to get someone a present, that’s cool. But doing it as a result of guilt is not cool.

    PS My wife is totally fine with this system, and even feels relieved that she doesn’t have to get me something I didn’t need anyway :)

  28. bossco says:

    Christmas can creep all it wants. I still don’t have money for any more gifts now than I will in December. Ho Ho Ho.

  29. TouchMyMonkey says:

    “In these days of heady excess, we could all benefit by waiting until after Thanksgiving to kick off our holiday binge-shopping.”

    Are you kidding me? Getting one’s Christmas shopping out of the way in September, when traffic is lighter, the weather warmer, and the selection in stores better is a whole hell of a lot better than waiting until after Black Friday and fighting the crowds. That takes all the fun out of Christmas, if you ask me.

    Of course, everybody’s getting sweaters and such this year, or gift boxes of River Rat cheese. Gotta love Upstate New York for that.

  30. FCL says:

    Today, at one of the local malls, I saw a sign in front of the Hallmark store announcing Santa’s arrival on October 11, from 10-2. Gag. I feel that Santa should not show up at the stationary store and sit next to the Halloween decorations.

    Needless to say, we won’t be going to the mall on October 11. It’s hard enough reminding the kids to take the holidays one at a time as it is.

  31. B says:

    On the other hand, thanks to inflation, a dollar will buy more Christmas stuff today than it will in November. Also, this saves us from the Christmas shrink ray.

  32. Eldritch says:

    Add Macy’s to the list. I was in there the other day, and they already have all their decorations up, as well as their holiday bear and lots of “happy holidays!” signs.

    It was, though, slightly ironic, since I stopped in to buy my first xmas gift of the season… damn their sales!

  33. Triborough says:

    I was in Ikea on Friday and they had Christmas stuff for sale. I have decided that at most, all anyone is getting from me is a gift made in their name to the Human Fund. . . money for people!

  34. "I Like Potatoes" says:

    I would start buying gifts early regardless of the store decor. It helps reduce the economic impact of buying gifts if I buy them over a period of two or three months instead of buying them all in December. It doesn’t mean I spend more money, it just means I’m able to pay cash for them instead of credit. Sure, I could save up money and then buy everything in December, but why? So I can fight the crowds and get annoyed at everyone? No thanks.

  35. Weirdsmobile says:

    I have no idea what the problem is with Christmas creep, other than the conceptual tackiness. I wish more people would do their holiday shopping earlier in the year. I frickin’ HATE the ridiculous traffic jams and crowded stores during the Christmas season. I do most of my Christmas shopping online anyway, but unless I want to do some serious survivalist-style hoarding in early autumn, I’ve still gotta do normal household shopping, and it’s a pain in the ass. I honestly can’t believe there are so many people who are apparently indifferent enough to the madness that they go through this ordeal year after year.

    Seriously, I would just as soon see the holiday abolished. I say this as a Christian. The spectacle of Christmas materialism is an obscenity that would make Christ himself vomit.

  36. SparklyJ says:

    To counterbalance the Christmas creep, I have decided that all of the presents at our house will be wrapped in orange and black paper and decorated with spiders and skeletons. I may even drop some dry ice into the Christmas tree stand so we can have spooky fog on Christmas morning. The fog will also camouflage the gift pile shrinkage that I know is coming.

  37. Ghede says:

    My family gets shopping done after christmas. Nothing says bargain like “Oh crap. I bought too much of X, time to liquidate.”

  38. dvdchris says:

    The huge shopping center/village near here already put up their Xmas decorations on the street lights earlier this month. They aren’t lit up yet and they’ve not put anything else up, but they sure got a headstart on those decorations.

  39. Benguin says:

    When I was a kid I always imagined that we’d eventually run into a scenario where stores started advertising the holidays a whole year ahead.

    Happy New Year 2010 everybody!

  40. knyghtryda says:

    My christmas creep is in the opposite direction… I don’t start buying stuff till WELL into december. I’ve in fact gone Christmas shopping on the 24th. I don’t know how people can start shopping for Christmas stuff this early… I don’t even know who I need to get gifts for, or what they want, or hell, what I want.

  41. mike says:

    @Kickstartheart: Yeah…it’s kind of like the election. I mean, I started hearing about the 2008 election in 2004. What’s up with that?!

  42. theblackdog says:

    I can run with just buying stuff after Thanksgiving. By then I have a good idea what people want and I can just head right out and get it.

  43. mrearly2 says:

    No, actually, Christmas is at the same time as always: Starts on December 25 and ends January 6.
    Every year.
    We aren’t forced to buy things (Christmas gifts) before that time, although the merchants do what they can, to get us into the stores for that.