Santa better get a T- shirt because summer has claimed Christmas


New York

Christmas, apparently, can’t come soon enough for retailers.

While plenty of families are still rushing to wrap up their back-to-school shopping before the new academic year gets going, several retailers have already set the mood for Christmas in stores and online.

But what about Halloween? And should anyone even think about Thanksgiving?

Don’t be surprised to find light-up elves, wreaths, inflatable Santa yard decorations popping up right next to spooky hanging skeletons and flashing tombstones.

Stores have been pushing up Christmas merchandise earlier and earlier in recent years. In 2021, Amazon and Walmart, afraid of tepid consumer demand because of the pandemic, initiated holiday sales as early as October. The same pattern was repeated last year, effectively elongating the year-end holiday shopping season.

But now, the Christmas “creep” is trumping not only Halloween, but also competing with consumer spending on back-to-school and Labor Day sales.

Could Christmas in summer become the norm?

“I expect an ever-growing holiday season is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future,” said Zak Stambor, senior retail & ecommerce analyst with Insider Intelligence. “That said, I do think there’s a limit as to how early the season can start as most shoppers don’t want to, and won’t, buy holiday items when they’re heading to the beach in the middle of summer.”

Industry watchers suspect shoppers are spotting Christmas-themed items in the middle of summer this year for a few reasons.

“There are only two reasons why Christmas stuff shows up in August. One half is, they have sold through all their summer inventory, and they need to put something out on the floor,” said Nikki Baird, vice president of strategy at retail technology company Aptos.

“The other is that they have Christmas inventory they packed up and held from last year, so this is the inventory they have to put out. I say this because normally you would have more fall transition inventory to put out, but it may be that these items haven’t made it through to stores yet,” she said.

Stambor cited one other reason, Amazon’s Prime Early Access sales, which is the company’s second major sales event following Amazon Prime Day in July. The Amazon Prime Early Access Sale, which took place for the first time in 2022, is a two-day sale in October in the fall season, ahead of holiday shopping.

“Retailers’ response to the slowdown in discretionary spending is to lean into tentpole occasions such as the holidays to convince consumers to open their wallets,” said Stambor.

“Every retailer is in a battle to grab as large a share as they can. That includes Amazon, which has pushed the holiday shopping season earlier than ever thanks to the launch of its Prime Early Access sales,” he said. “Those events have pushed other retailers to roll out their holiday merchandise earlier than ever to ensure that they don’t lose sales to the retail giant.”

So, here’s who has jumped the gun in the race for Christmas sales:

Home Depot: The home improvement chain said it started rolling out holiday-themed merchandise online last week. The retailer said that it replicated the pattern it has used in recent years to move up sales of festive items, like a giant Santa Claus yard decoration and a six-foot animated singing and dancing Grinch, after noticing early and growing customer demand for holiday products.

Home Depot

(HD) said it plans to launch Halloween products in stores in the last week of August and the first week of September, and another holiday line of products later in the Fall.


(LOW): Home Depot rival Lowe’s

(LOW) noted that over the past two years the retailer has seen an increase in holiday décor searches starting as early as July, “with more than a 50% increase in search on over prior months,” and launched festive holiday products early.

The company said budget-conscious shoppers who are dealing with the impact of still high inflation on their wallets “are looking to spread out their holiday shopping and start earlier than we’ve seen in year’s past.”

“To meet this rising interest in early holiday décor shopping, Lowe’s kicked off its holiday season earlier than ever before by offering a curated selection of holiday essentials including faux trees, wreaths, garlands and family-favorite inflatables available to purchase on now, and in-store in early September,” the company said in an email to CNN.


(COST): Costco

(COST) has Christmas merchandise alongside Halloween products in its warehouse club stores.

Dollar Tree: The discount variety store chain offered a limited time “Christmas in July” online shopping event on July 20 with 50% off on shipping. Among the festive items were Christmas tree ornaments, festive ribbons, plush elves and tabletop ornaments.


(SBUX): It’s still summer but Starbucks

(SBUX)’ popular PSL — Pumpkin Spice Latte — which to many signals the start of the festive season, is expected to hit the menu at the end of August, as in recent years.

Nikki Baird, with Aptos, had a word of caution for the coffee chain: “I do think they need to be careful that they don’t oversaturate the market by rolling the Pumpkin Spice Latte earlier and earlier every year,” she said. “I guess, at least they’re not also bringing out the Peppermint Mocha at the same time — that would be the equivalent of Costco and their lighted-reindeer figurines sitting next to the patio furniture! What customer really wants that?”

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