I walked into the store last week looking for the perfect low-cost Halloween costume – I was thinking a checkered shirt, jeans, shiny gold badge and boots for the classic cowgirl look – when a glimmer of red, green and gold diverted my attention. The adjoining aisle was flooded with winter holiday decorations: festive white lights wrapped around a massive fake Christmas tree, red ribbons festooned the shelves and an inflatable plastic Santa Claus towered over electric reindeer with noses lit bright red.
The sight immediately caused me irritation. Here I was, dressed in shorts and sandals, assaulted by the sight of wreaths, mistletoe and Frosty the Snowman. Retailers have long marketed holiday-themed yard decorations, stocking stuffers and assorted sweets weeks before Christmas to fuel the booming holiday industry, but this year marks a new era in the age of elaborate store window displays and advertising campaigns aimed at exploiting consumer enthusiasm for the holidays. With the economy in a downward spiral, retailers are adjusting the timeline of their winter holiday sales to attract customers as early as the beginning of October. Sales are expected to increase only 2.2 percent this year, a significant drop from the 10-year average of 4.4 percent, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
The anticipated decline in holiday sales does not absolve the retail industry of its offensive and calculated early commercialization of the winter holidays. Bright ornament displays and incessant holiday music played over store loudspeakers before leaves have even fallen from the trees can quickly diminish one's enjoyment of the holidays come time to celebrate. There's something paradoxical about hearing "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" when the thermometer outside reads 70 degrees. Retailers should be advised to stick to the calendar and focus their marketing on the holiday on hand.
The only way to correct this intrusive marketing campaign is to resist the urge to give into early holiday sales. Consumers should send a clear message to retailers in terms they can understand – let's not make any holiday purchases until the turkey's been served and the trees are bare.
Lauren Kestner. Lauren Kestner loves Trader Joe's chocolates, cheesy television soap operas, summer trips to Lake Anna, coffee ice cream from Coldstone Creamery, hikes at Northwest Branch and shopping at Heritage. Playing soccer for Blair or her MSC club team and running at the gym consumes much … More »