Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Tis Never Too Early Stores See Demand for Christmas Items before Halloween

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Tis Never Too Early Stores See Demand for Christmas Items before Halloween

Article excerpt

As far as Robin Bolena is concerned, it's never too early to start her holiday shopping.

The Baymeadows hairdresser, who was perusing through some booty-shaking, musical Santas and other holiday knickknacks in Kirkland's at The Avenues mall last week, said she looks for gifts and other Christmas-related items all year round. That way, she takes advantage of sales and discounts in the off-season.

"I guess I'm a penny pincher," Bolena said. "It's my favorite time of the year, so I buy throughout the year."

Apparently, she is not alone.

Although Halloween is still more than a week away and Thanksgiving is more than a month off, the Christmas selling season already has started. Some retailers started stocking their shelves with holiday items as early as June.

According to industry analysts, marketing professionals and retailers, it's because of increased competition among stores, mail-order catalogs that run several months ahead of season, changing spending habits of the consumer, pressure from Wall Street investors and more recently, e-commerce.

"The consumer has become much more of a 12-months-a-year shopper," said Murray Forseter, editor of the trade publication Chain Store Age. "We're not a society that denies itself any longer. We're an affluent society, so if you want that second VCR, you don't wait till Christmas."

While Black Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving -- is still the biggest shopping day of the year by most accounts, it has petered out somewhat, as more shoppers do their buying throughout the year, Forseter said. "That's still going to be the biggest day of the year, but it's no longer the monster day that it was."

Bolena, the hairdresser, said she's about 70 percent done with her holiday shopping and will have the rest done by Halloween. "To me it's being prepared. That way, you can enjoy the holidays," she said. "I like to get it done at least two months ahead of time."

While some purists lament that the holidays have become too commercialized and their true meanings diluted, retailers said they're simply addressing a market where they see a need.

And they say if there wasn't a demand, consumers wouldn't be seeing tinsel, wrapping paper and angel tree-toppers for sale as early as summer.

"People want to save money," said Traci Blascoe, manager of Carlton Cards, also at The Avenues, which started selling some of its Christmas items in July.

"This allows them to get the things that they want and get the sales."

Kelley Mullin, manager of Kirkland's, said the holiday items are the store's biggest selling category. Last year, the store began putting Christmas items on shelves in June, although this year the store pushed it back to July.

"You get people who say it's too early for Christmas, but then they'll be going out with a bag full of stuff," she said. …

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