If you noticed Christmas wreaths stacked adjacent to clearance beach umbrellas and back-to-school items this year, you’re not imagining things. Retailers are intentionally rolling out seasonal holiday merchandise earlier than ever.
Why the rush? And is Christmas in August a sales practice that’s here to stay?
Retailers have been pushing holiday gear earlier for the past few years – as early as October in 2021, which occurred due to fears of a lackluster shopping season during the pandemic.
Inflation concerns are not lost on retailers either. Lowe’s, who said online searches for Christmas décor have ticked up as early as July, said budget conscious shoppers “are looking to spread out their holiday shopping and start earlier than we’ve seen in years past.”
Nikki Baird, Vice President of the retail technology company, Aptos, said inventory supply issues are also a culprit. One factor is “they have sold through all their summer inventory and they need to put something out on the floor,” she said. Another factor is “it may be these [fall transition] items haven’t made it through to stores yet,” so retailers haul out leftover holiday items in the meantime.
There’s another factor at play as well, and of course it has to do with Amazon. The online retail giant has pushed Christmas sales earlier each year ever since the launch of its Prime Early Access sales, according to Zak Stambor, Senior Retail and eCommerce Analyst for Insider Intelligence.
The two-day sale takes place in October, typically ahead of the traditional holiday shopping season. Retailers who depend on a significant portion of profits from holiday shoppers are adjusting their timing to get ahead of Amazon’s event, so as not to lose significant sales to the online competitor.
Even Starbucks is an unexpected contributor. The arrival of Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte has become iconic with hailing the start of the holiday season. Recently, as with this year, the ubiquitous beverage company is releasing the drink as early as the end of August.
With Home Depot’s plans to roll out Christmas merchandise the last week of August, and Lowe’s to follow the first week of September, Dollar Tree hosting its online Christmas In July, and Costco set to release holiday merchandise simultaneously with Halloween gear, one wonders how much farther the trend can continue.
Said Stambor, “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.” Is Stambor’s prediction on the money? Or will we soon be “having that Christmas feeling all year long?”