Archive for Friday, October 12, 2007

Weeks before Halloween, Christmas creeps into stores

Whitney Baker, Lawrence, a floor sales associate at the Westlake Ace Hardware store, 711 W. 23rd St., decorates a Christmas tree display in the store Tuesday evening, Oct.. 9, 2007. Just a few days after Columbus Day retailers across the country are already offering Christmas items for sale.

Whitney Baker, Lawrence, a floor sales associate at the Westlake Ace Hardware store, 711 W. 23rd St., decorates a Christmas tree display in the store Tuesday evening, Oct.. 9, 2007. Just a few days after Columbus Day retailers across the country are already offering Christmas items for sale.

October 12, 2007


Shopping for Christmas in October

Christmas, shopping anyway, is coming early this year as retailers try to get a head start on an expected chill in winter sales. But are shoppers ready for the change in seasons? Enlarge video

Whitney Baker, Lawrence, a floor sales associate at Westlake Ace Hardware, 711 W. 23rd St., decorates a Christmas tree display in the store Tuesday evening. It's only a few days since Columbus Day, and retailers across the country are already offering Christmas items for sale.

Whitney Baker, Lawrence, a floor sales associate at Westlake Ace Hardware, 711 W. 23rd St., decorates a Christmas tree display in the store Tuesday evening. It's only a few days since Columbus Day, and retailers across the country are already offering Christmas items for sale.

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Is it too early for Christmas shopping season?

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On the street

When do you start shopping for Christmas?

I would say I start about December 23rd, but I’m always running late.

More responses

Margie Hinkle keeps a keen eye out for holiday values pretty much year round, but that's mostly so she can unwrap ideas - a swath of colors, an appropriate sentiment, a certain material that might one day be crafted into a personal project to be given to a friend or loved one.

But right now, more than two weeks before Halloween, she doesn't need to see a tree skirt, green extension cords or a 48-inch-tall animated polar bear with "300 clear super bright minilights" from the Soft Tinsel Collection.

Christmas sales already?

"I'm 71," she said Thursday, staring at a wall of holiday cards at Target, 3201 Iowa. "Things weren't out this early when I was younger - things weren't out this early 30 years ago, or even just a few years ago.

"I sometimes wonder if it's a setup, so they can mark it down later."

Well, get used to it.

These autumn days, shops are doing more than putting out boxes of holiday cards, stocking wrapping paper and plugging in giant snow-blowing globes. Even some of the country's largest retailers - that's right: Wal-Mart - are cutting prices on toys and other goods, hoping to get a jump on a holiday shopping season expected to have chillier sales than usual.

"Certainly specialty stores - where the majority of their sales come from holiday sales - will look at this as do or die," said Kathy Grannis, a spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation, which forecasts the slowest growth in holiday shopping receipts since 2002. "If we really are in for an more modest holiday season than we've seen in recent years, then retailers - especially those smaller retailers, or specialty-type ones - should be decking their stores out already."

This week at Dillons, 4701 W. Sixth St., Susie Norton had to steer her cart between a box of "Fresh Jack-o-Lantern" pumpkins and a table stacked with "'Tis the Season" greeting cards.

Norton not only isn't surprised; she also doesn't mind.

"I have five kids. I have to think about it ahead of time," she said, buckling her 19-month-old daughter, Lily, into a cart. "It helps me keep the holidays in mind."


sourpuss 10 years, 7 months ago

Honestly, if the American consumer didn't make such a big deal out of this holiday, the retailers would scale back. Get one or two reasonable gifts for the people closest to you, cards for the rest, and a few sturdy toys and clothes for children. Set a tight budget and stick with it. If you want a real "Christmas present," take the money you would have spent on stupid games, insipid toys, and joke neckties and invest it in short or long term CDs. In 20 years, you can have a fortune, instead of an attic full of Elmos.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 7 months ago

Do children really enjoy tons of gifts? I'd say no. One christmas our then very young son threw an absolute fit one christmas morning because he received more than he requested. That was quite a message considering he was not looking at a huge pile. They become overwhelmed and the lions share of their gifts become dust collectors. From that day forward life became much simpler.

We are very very close to being through with xmas shopping. We buy when we see something unique yet we know they will enjoy for a long time to come. For us shopping during a frenzy does not allow for that special thing. Sometimes that special thing is on a clearance shelf in an antique store,museum,toy store, Social Service League or garage sale.... who knows where the hell it might turn up.

We do enjoy the lights,special scenes in store windows,yard displays and the music but not before halloween. Decades ago retail windows used to full of real cool christmas scenes before the stores became big boxes.

Ragingbear 10 years, 7 months ago

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Haiku_Cuckoo 10 years, 7 months ago

Great, tis the season to discuss if we should say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.

Americorps, allow me to be the first to wish you and yours a Happy Festivus.

Ragingbear 10 years, 7 months ago

Since my first comment was deleted, I will restate it...

It is October!

Dale Stringer 10 years, 7 months ago

I wish they would wait until after Halloween to put out the Christmas stuff. After Thanksgiving would be better, but I know that is asking way too much. I remember as a child, the Christmas sales season didn't start until the Sears and JC Penny's Christmas catalogs were mailed out.

domino 10 years, 7 months ago

I agree that Christmas has turned WAY too commercial, but "we" are the ones who are allowing it to happen! We can only do what we can do, as individuals and families, to stop the madness and hopefully others will follow our lead.

My family has never been one to over do at Christmas, but as the family continued to grow, it was starting to become daunting buying for everyone. My mom decided (or decreed!) that we would start drawing names. We all decided we still wanted to buy for the 3 little ones (under age 10) but every one agreed we would limit it to $10-15 per kid. The adults have a $40 price limit and everyone is really good about sticking to it and it makes it fun trying to find the best gift they can while staying within the budget. I hit the jackpot last year with a jewelry store going out of business - got my sister-in-law a beautiful necklace at 75% off!!

My mother-in-law, who is not in the best health, felt she could no longer deal with cooking the big meal for everyone. The kids felt she couldn't really afford all the gifts, either. So last year, the whole family got together and went out for a nice dinner, then went back to her house to visit. Again, we still get gifts for the "under 18" group, but nothing extravagant.

Use some imagination and come up with something that works for your family!

waydownsouth 10 years, 7 months ago

I just buy the stocking gifts. They family buys so much stuff i don't have to. Makes it alot easier on me.

snazzo 10 years, 7 months ago

Ragingbear, I actually started seeing Christmas stuff out at the end of September. now, that is just wrong. That's still a month away from Halloween! I think the sales industry is jumping the gun and trying to shove a Merry Christmas down our throats. I don't want to get into "tis the season" while its still 80 degrees outside with the leaves still green on the trees. There's a reason the saying goes, "tis the season!" Its during a specific season!!

Confrontation 10 years, 7 months ago

Good advice, domino. My family got to the point where we had up to 14 other people to buy for! Some of my relatives were obsessed with having hundreds of gifts under the tree. Then, we spent up to five hours as each person opened each gift, one at a time. My Aunt and Uncle would buy up to 25 gifts for each of their two daughters. We had to sit there and watch them open each one. One pair of pants, one doll, one pair of socks, etc. Boring. At some point, you just get sick of opening stupid knicknacks and useless items. Now, we split the family into smaller sections. I open gifts with my immediate family members, and then we all get together as a larger family for Christmas dinner. We each make lists of what we would like for Christmas, so no one is wasting money on stupid ceramic angels or scented candles (unless someone wants it!). We still spend money, but not nearly as much and not on useless items. Plus, we're done opening gifts within an hour.

Adrienne Sanders 10 years, 7 months ago

Buddhadude, the Sears Christmas Wish book (catalog) came out in August.

Y'all do realize, if we Americans didn't spend so much $$$ on xmas, our economy wouldn't even function.

Ragingbear 10 years, 7 months ago

I've actually seen stuff prior to September. I saw some semi-christmasy type stuff in late August. You know, the stuff that is usually considered Christmas stuff, but doesn't have any of the real Christmas trimmings.

While I no longer celebrate Christmas I do remember growing up with it. It was a family tradition to start decorating the house the day after Thanksgiving. The tree was put up and trimmed. That was easy as it was an artificial tree. Throughout the season, more decorations would be put up, like string lights on the windows. I would say our total value of Christmas junk was around $150 (today's market) with the replaced stuff only running about $25(lights and the broken ornaments from last year). We would tend to have a large amount of presents, with the tradition that one was allowed to be opened on Christmas eve, but not one of the "big" presents. So if a computer was one of them, then we could not open that.

I suspected the truth about Santa Clause from day one. I lived with my Grandmother until I was 5, and she was a Jehovah's witness. So we didn't celebrate. I learned the truth without doubt by the time I was 8. Didn't care, I still got presents, we still had a family celebration.

After all these years, I look back at the excess of stuff given out. I then remember that I was a welfare child. Where were the presents coming from? How were they afforded? I knew for a fact that several of my presents were not cheap by any means. I came to find out that our family went into massive debt to celebrate it every year. I also remember the fights, frustrations and the like that our family endured every year to satiate other family that we did not like.

Ragingbear 10 years, 7 months ago

Today, I see two factions in the Christmas "war". The store/consumer relationship that tells everyone "Buy stuff to show people you love them." and starts marketing the junk as early as August, and the religionists that have declared the Christmas season a time to find something to fight about. There are groups of agnostic/atheist (and yes, these ones ARE a religion) that have decided that since they don't celebrate it, that neither can anyone else. They are the ones that force the entire "happy holidays" issues, as well as converting all these holidays at schools and the like to be revamped into "winter festivals". I remember in Kindergarten that I was not alone in not celebrating Christmas. The teacher and her aide had no problem respecting this. Most "Christmas" projects were just as easily winter celebration projects, minus the "Merry Christmas". I never felt excluded by my school.

At the same time a small group of Atheist/agnostics wage a war against Christmas, there are your mega Christians that find happiness in being miserable, and believe everyone else should be like them. Not only do they insist everyone observe, respect and celebrate Christmas, but they they will go to virtually any length to force the issue. This includes trying to force a Winter Festival (that was ALWAYS a winter festival) to rename it to a Christmas celebration.

Until the last 30 years or so, Christmas wasn't a big deal. It was something that people would decorate for, creating cool drive-through Christmas villas. The celebration was usually a large get together, or at least a family get together with a few friends mixed in. It wasn't about commercialization, it wasn't about the stuff. Heck, it wasn't even about Jesus, God, The Holy Ghost or any of the concourse of angels that follow them. It was about family. Something that even the religionists have forgotten.

By the way, that entire re-writing of the classic Christmas songs with their own flourish and such.... Stop it. The last thing I want to hear is "Christmas don't be late" originally performed by Dave Seville and the Chipmunks being recreated by Madonna, which it was, about 5-6 years ago. Just leave them alone for what they are. Classic songs that everyone can enjoy.

Better yet. Festivus for the rest of us. We will now have the ceremony of the manly shows of strength...

mom_of_three 10 years, 7 months ago

When I worked for a local department store, we would stay up all night getting the Christmas set together - IN SEPTEMBER!!

My mom makes it easier on herself. She puts money in the kids' saving account all year long, and then at Christmas, she will buy them one small thing, like a video. Last year, she splurged and bought them KU Basketball tickets and drove up here to go with them. (she is a big fan and had never been to a game before).

domino 10 years, 7 months ago

Guess I just feel realy lucky that I grew up the way I did. Grew up on a small farm with 1 sister & two brothers, a stay at home mome and my dad farmed and raised cattle and horses. Not a welfare kid like ragingbear, but not rolling in $ either. We usually got 1 nice gift (something that wasn't a necessity) then clothes (mostly that mom made) and maybe something little (candy - nuts - that sort of thing). I remember when I was a 6th grader and my older sister and I each got one of the "new, cool" Kodak 110 cameras - you remember them - flat rectangular ones that had the "flip flash" that had 4 flash bulbs on one end then you "flipped" it over and had 4 more flashes on the other end!! Boy was it cool! (Ok - I'm dating myself but I know lots of you remember or had them!) Christmas was, and still is, a time for family at our house!

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