The winter holidays are coming early this year for A.R. Wells.
The Westlake Ace Hardware manager spent much of Thursday stocking shelves with dozens of boxes of holiday decorations - red rope lights, multicolored flashing lights, C-9 "cool bright" lights - at his store at 601 Kasold Drive.
Kinda scary, considering it's still more than a month before Halloween.
"'Tis the season," Wells said.
While the holiday shopping season doesn't officially begin until the Friday after Thanksgiving - now just 57 days away - that isn't stopping retailers who want to ring up sales from people hoping to wrap things up early.
A year ago, 25 percent of consumers nationwide had started their holiday shopping by the end of September, according to the National Retail Federation. Another 18 percent planned to start in October.
Jennifer Holmes, manager of Rod's Hallmark, 2329 Iowa, knows a thing or two about getting a head start. Like hundreds of other Hallmark shops, her store puts out its holiday ornaments in July. Boxes of holidays cards hit the shelves earlier this month, and already a handful of platters, Santa items and reindeer mugs are attracting buyers.
With gasoline prices staying stubbornly high, Holmes said, customers from outlying communities are spending more during their trips to town - a trend she anticipates continuing as the holidays approach.
"It's amazing. People will buy it," Holmes said. "People are wanting their shopping done earlier. If they see something cute, they'll pick it up now so they don't have to worry about it later."
Back at Westlake Ace, Wells is hoping convenience-minded customers will start buying some of the "thousands" of boxes of light sets he has in stock.
"It's for those people who want to get them up early, before the weather gets bad," Wells said. "As for decorating, the season is here."