Christmas Creep is getting too creepy

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Every year it seems that Christmas is coming sooner, or at least the stores are preparing for Christmas earlier and we, the public, are responsible for it. Most people I talk with agree that Christmas decorations are out way too early. This year in particular, I saw Christmas decorations in September. That’s a full month before Halloween is even celebrated. But according to a study in 2014 by the Harvard Business Review, people in general are indifferent or happy about holiday displays in September. Nearly 60 percent of people start their holiday shopping in November or later, but that leaves 40 percent who start shopping in October or earlier, according to the National Retail Foundation.

Why do we let this madness continue? Because it’s good for business. Enough people agree or it wouldn’t still be happening. According to the National Retail Foundation, one-fifth of retail revenues come during the holiday season.

What is the Christmas creep? It’s the launch of holiday sales and advertising earlier and earlier each year. The holiday season is big business. Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, which helps businesses turn a profit or be “in the black.” The last few years, Black Friday has crept into Thanksgiving, which I think is ludicrous. No longer are employees allowed to spend the full day of Thanksgiving with family, and to give thanks. Instead, many workers trudge into work only to make a few extra dollars in overtime pay. Of course, when Black Friday was truly on Friday, many employees had to cut their Thanksgiving dinner a little short to get up early for the shopping day, but at least they didn’t have to go in on Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is one of the only holidays that everyone in this country celebrates, and to take it away for consumerism, well, I guess that makes sense. After all, our country is built on consumerism, isn’t it?

Our economy depends on shopping. The gross domestic product (GDP) is a way to gauge how healthy the economy is. It is based on consumerism. In order to be successful in capitalism and democracy, we need to spend money. Unfortunately, people who spend money usually can’t afford it. “Any time the urge strikes, we now have the capability to act on it impulsively, and that creates a much greater challenge for us than was ever the case before,”  stated Stuart Vyse, Ph.D., author of “Going Broke: Why Americans Can’t Hold On To Their Money.”

Business centerpiece graphic of a survey of consumers showing that 2 out of every 5 begin holiday shopping before the end of October; includes information on what people are buying and where and an image of a jack-o-lantern wearing a Santa hat.

Photo by Tribune News Service
Business centerpiece graphic of a survey of consumers showing that 2 out of every 5 begin holiday shopping before the end of October; includes information on what people are buying and where and an image of a jack-o-lantern wearing a Santa hat.

According to a Nielson poll from 2014, 27 percent of women had already begun to pick up holiday gifts by September, compared to 12 percent of men. And 20 percent of parents purchase at least one holiday-season item before Labor Day, according to CreditCards.com, compared to 14 percent of non-parents.

Can the early advertising and sales help the public? Yes. People on a budget need to get an early start on holiday shopping. Layaway is a popular way for people to budget their shopping. Layaway is designed to sell more stuff and is focused on low-income shoppers. With layaway, people need to start earlier, so it makes more sense that the ads are earlier.

In order for businesses to compete, they need to advertise and sell at the same time or before their competitors. It gives stores an edge if they open that one hour earlier or start advertising earlier.

Black Friday isn’t even that good of a deal for consumers. With the advent of days like Cyber Monday, which attract more and more consumers, many items are cheaper in the weeks after Black Friday and at other times of the year than on actual Black Friday. Black Friday is just good for stores. There are reports every year of customers getting violent in stores over some product. It’s just not worth it. Although we do have to be careful on Cyber Monday that we don’t fall victim to scams either.

So when will it stop? It won’t stop unless we want them to, but numbers show we don’t really care. All I have to say, it’s too early.

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