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Holiday Creep

Welcome to the start of the jolly ole’ shopping season … in October

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I can remember a time when Thanksgiving was the official start of the holiday season. The week of that annual holiday, and sometimes not even until the night before, retailers unwrapped their much-anticipated holiday windows. There was much pageantry and ceremony tied to these events as we gave thanks for our blessings and then, bellies full of turkey and pie, turned our attention to the gift-giving time of year.

Now, Lord & Taylor has announced its Fifth Avenue flagship will open for business on Thanksgiving Day. In fact, watching the World Series this past weekend, I realized holiday ads have already hit the networks. Store aisles are already crammed with holiday decorations and layaway deals are in full force. Holiday windows are probably just a few days away from making their debuts after we celebrate that holiday in October that now feels like it’s just standing in the way.

The reality: We are no longer forced to wait until Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and Cyber Monday (the Monday after Black Friday) to start experiencing the barrage of shop-til-you-drop sales promotions. It’s already here.

Sure, over the past few years, several retailers – Walmart, Best Buy, Toys“R”Us and Target are a few that come to mind – began creeping up their seasonal campaigns, some opening up at midnight on Thanksgiving to draw crowds of tryptophan-dosed consumers to their stores for deals on a new flatscreen or Wii.

I can’t help but wonder if retailers are running the risk of turning off consumers completely by pushing up the seasonal hoopla and sales bonanzas. I mean, how many times can you hear “the best price of the season” before you start to think, “I’ll pay full price if it means I don’t have to hear sleigh bells in October.”

Soon we’ll start to hear analysts’ predictions for holiday sales and what they represent about the state of retail and the year on record for our industry. But it sounds like they’re going to need to start tweaking those numbers as retailers ramp up the competition for holiday sales once again.

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